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Higher Education Administration, Ph.D.

Saint Louis University's Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration emphasizes the interplay of theory and practice in higher education.

Curriculum Overview

Through coursework and intensive study, the Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration prepares future leaders, administrators and teachers for the college and university sectors. Courses focus on the analysis of issues related to college student and higher education administration; application of discipline-based literature to higher education practice; application of best practice; and research competency. Courses are grounded in a social justice and inclusion framework. 

Social Justice Framework

Social justice has been a “significant lens” for Jesuits since 1965 and for higher education and student affairs professionals, educators, and community stakeholders. While the definitions of social justice are numerous, David Hollenbach, S.J. wrote that “Social justice concerns institutionalized patterns of mutual action and interdependence that are necessary to bring about the realization of distributive justice.” 

In an education setting, distributive justice is the claim that all should have access to the public good of education. Toward that end, we strive to find ways to address experiences of systemic injustice, displacing oppressive structures with those that provide for all.

As educators, we understand our particular obligation to prepare leaders for higher education who will not only dismantle systems of oppression but help shape colleges and universities that create vital educational spaces for all; with an intentional focus on those who have been targets of bias and injustice. With these goals in mind, our program is informed by the Jesuit, Catholic perspective on social justice, and is guided by the Universal Apostolic Preferences adopted by the Society of Jesus in 2019, for the decade ahead.

The Jesuits encourage specific approaches to bring about reconciliation and justice. Our program’s framework is specifically guided by two approaches: “Walking with the Excluded” and “Journeying with Youth” (The Society of Jesus, 2019).

The approach “Walking with the Excluded” guides our program’s framework, where our students are personally and professionally challenged to address both higher education and society’s systemic inequities through an understanding of reconciliation and justice.

The approach “Journeying with Youth” encourages the Jesuit community, including our work in the University and the School of Education, to be open to formation by those who are new to our community or those who are younger, including students, faculty, and staff. 

As scholars and educators, we aim to co-create a learning environment where students are holistically prepared to:

1.   Identify and analyze processes that dehumanize any persons and assist all in collectively and proactively dismantling oppression.

2.   Reflect on the socialization that shapes each student and faculty member.

3.   Give voice to particular groups’ experiences.

4.   Contextualize the history and context that each person brings to our work by incorporating sociopolitical perspectives into dialogue.

5.   Reflect upon and ask critical questions regarding the systems, structures, and impact of higher education.


The Ph.D. in higher education administration program is intended for those students interested in pursuing careers in higher education teaching and/or administration.

Admission Requirements

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  • Application form and fee
  • Transcript(s)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Résumé
  • Professional goal statement

Requirements for International Students

All admission policies and requirements for domestic students apply to international students along with the following:

  • Demonstrate English Language Proficiency
  • Proof of financial support must include:
    • A letter of financial support from the person(s) or sponsoring agency funding the time at Saint Louis University
    • A letter from the sponsor's bank verifying that the funds are available and will be so for the duration of study at the University
  • Academic records, in English translation, of students who have undertaken postsecondary studies outside the United States must include the courses taken and/or lectures attended, practical laboratory work, the maximum and minimum grades attainable, the grades earned or the results of all end-of-term examinations, and any honors or degrees received. WES and ECE transcripts are accepted.

Please note that application deadlines for this program differ for international students.

Review Process

A committee reviews each application holistically.

Application Deadlines

Domestic students should apply for the fall semester by June 15, for the spring semester by Nov. 1, and for the summer semester by April 1. International students should apply by May 1 for the fall semester, Oct.1 for the spring semester, and Feb. 1 for the summer semester.   

Scholarships and Financial Aid

For priority consideration for graduate assistantship, apply by Feb. 1. 

For more information, visit the student financial services office online at  

  1. Graduates will be prepared to address systemic injustices in higher education and society.
  2. Graduates will demonstrate critical reflection as they use discipline-based literature to inform ethical decisions in higher education leadership.
  3. Graduates will contribute to new knowledge through the creation of original research related to higher education administration practices.
Higher Education Administration
EDH 5250History of American Higher Education3
EDH 5350Student Development Theory I3
EDH 5400Law and Higher Education3
EDH 6050Disability in Higher Education & Society3
EDH 6150Organization and Administration of Higher Education3
EDH 6580Financial Admin in Higher Educ3
EDH 6950Special Study for Written Comprehensive Exams0
Research Courses
Introductory Research Courses 3-9
Advanced Research Courses6
EDR 6970Research Topics in Education3
Dissertation Research
EDR 6990Dissertation Research12
Total Credits42-48

Introductory Research Courses

Students must complete master’s level graduate research coursework as prerequisites for advanced research courses. Students are required to successfully complete the following three research courses. Up to six credits may be waived based on students' prior coursework.  

EDR 5000General Research Methods for Education3
EDR 5100Intro to Inferential Stats: Ed3
EDR 5400Qualitative Research in Education3

Advanced Research Courses

Students choose six credits of research electives from either the qualitative or quantitative focus (see lists below).

Qualitative Research Focus (choose two courses from the following:)
EDR 5500
Evaluation of Education Programs
EDR 6000
Professional Writing
EDR 6400
Advanced Qual Research for Ed
EDR 6600
Designing Mixed Methods Research
EDR 6930
Special Topics
Quantitative Research Focus (choose two courses from the following:)
EDR 6060
Research Design and Analysis
EDR 6100
Intermediate Applied Statistics for Education
EDR 6150
Single Subject Experimental Research Design
EDR 6500
Multilevel Regression Models
EDR 6600
Designing Mixed Methods Research

Non-Course Requirements

  • Students must pass a comprehensive written examination.
  • Students must pass an oral examination/proposal defense.
  • Students must pass a public presentation and defense of their dissertation.

Continuation Standards

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 in all graduate/professional courses.

Roadmaps are recommended semester-by-semester plans of study for programs and assume full-time enrollment unless otherwise noted.  

Courses and milestones designated as critical (marked with !) must be completed in the semester listed to ensure a timely graduation. Transfer credit may change the roadmap.

This roadmap should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor/mentor each semester.  Requirements, course availability and sequencing are subject to change.

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
EDH 5350 Student Development Theory I 3
EDH 5400 Law and Higher Education 3
EDR 5000 General Research Methods for Education (Required if student has not met intro research prereqs requirement) 0-3
EDH 6150 Organization and Administration of Higher Education 3
EDH 6580 Financial Admin in Higher Educ 3
EDR 5400 Qualitative Research in Education 3
EDR 5100 Intro to Inferential Stats: Ed (required if student has not met intro research prereqs requirement) 0-3
Year Two
EDH 5250 History of American Higher Education 3
EDH 6050 Disability in Higher Education & Society 3
Adv Research Course 3
EDH 6950 Special Study for Written Comprehensive Exams 0
EDR 6970 Research Topics in Education 3
EDR 6990 Dissertation Research 4
Adv Research Course 3
Year Three
EDR 6990 Dissertation Research (Please register in your advisor's section number) 4
Oral Exam (Dissertation Proposal)  
EDR 6990 Dissertation Research (Please register in your advisor's section number) 4
Public Defense of Dissertation  
 Total Credits42-48

Apply for Admission

For additional admission questions, please contact:
Saint Louis University School of Education