The Higher Education Doctoral Program at UMass Boston seeks to empower emerging leaders who can serve as change agents and advocates for social justice and equity in higher education. Students include early- to mid-career professionals who work in higher education institutions, including community colleges, liberal arts colleges, and public and private universities. They occupy a variety of roles in student affairs, academic affairs, admissions and enrollment management, financial aid, institutional research, human resources, and other administrative areas. Early-career scholars have also entered the program, seeking to develop skills for careers as researchers, faculty members, or policy analysts.
The program is based on a cohort model in which PhD and EdD students participate in a common curriculum. Through elective courses and research experiences, students are able to pursue goals specific to either degree. Individuals who plan to pursue a career as a senior-level college or university administrator can apply to the EdD. Those who plan to pursue a career that includes college teaching, research, policy analysis, or service as a chief academic officer can apply to the PhD.
PhD requirements include 72 credits of course work beyond the master’s: 15 core courses (including dissertation seminars), six electives, a qualifying paper, dissertation research (9 credits), and completion of a dissertation. Students spend one full day per week (Fridays) taking courses on campus for three academic years and participate in a three-week program in June for three summers. In January of the third year, students complete the qualifying paper, which serves as the qualifying examination.
Among the six electives for the PhD, three must focus on advanced theoretical perspectives that represent interdisciplinary perspectives on higher education, and one elective must be an advanced research methods course.
Higher Education Core Courses
The PhD dissertation presents an original, empirical research study focusing on an educational problem that addresses an issue of relevance to higher education practice, policy, and/or theory. It is designed to demonstrate students’ ability to use theory and prior literature to design and carry out an empirical research project that makes a contribution to and articulates implications for research, practice, policy, and/or theory in higher education.
Applicants should submit an admissions portfolio consisting of:
- a completed application for admission;
- an essay of approximately 2000 words, in which the applicant address¬es the following areas:
Reflect on your practice in higher edu¬cation and how that practice relates to larger higher education issues.
Reflect on your capabilities for leader¬ship in higher education.
Reflect on your preparation for doc¬toral level work.
Reflect on what you will contribute to the Higher Education Doctoral Program and what you will gain from it.
- three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant’s educational and/or professional background, and who can comment on the applicant’s potential for doctoral work;
- a resume or curriculum vitae;
- a completed Employer Agreement Form, showing year-by-year how the applicant and his/her employer will arrange the applicant’s work schedule to permit him/her to meet the program’s requirements (including the three-week June sessions and a full weekday on campus each week during the semesters leading up to the dissertation seminar);
- official transcripts of all previous academic work, graduate and undergraduate, demonstrating particularly that the applicant has earned a master’s degree or equivalent from a college or university of recognized standing;
- scores from a graduate-level standardized examination, such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT)
The admissions committee will interview all finalists before making its recommendations for acceptance to the program. Completed applications must reach the University’s Office of Graduate Admissions by February 1.