Jun 13, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Doctor of Philosophy - Higher Education

Plan Description

The Doctor of Philosophy – Higher Education is grounded in the concept that successful higher educational leaders must be well-informed and context sensitive professionals who make theory based, research supported, and data-driven decisions.

The primary objectives of the program are to:

  • Prepare students for administrative positions in community colleges, four year colleges, universities, and other public and private learning and policy environments;
  • Prepare individuals for faculty positions in higher education; and
  • Assist doctoral students in the development of skills in assessment and evaluation, research design, and quantitative and qualitative methodologies appropriate for leadership roles as faculty or administrators in higher and postsecondary education.

Students can elect to specialize in any of four emphasis areas: university and community college leadership; higher education policy; intercollegiate athletic leadership; and student affairs leadership.​​

For more information about your program, including your graduate program handbook and learning outcomes, please visit the Degree Directory.

Plan Admission Requirements

Application deadlines

Applications available on the UNLV Graduate College website.

Entrance to the Ph.D. program requires candidates to complete three steps.

  1. Minimum admission requirements for UNLV’s Graduate College include: Completed application for admission and the nonrefundable application fee. More information is available on the Graduate College website.
  2. Additional materials each candidate must also upload with the application:
    • Personal Statement of Professional Aspirations and research interests;
      • A personal statement between 2-3 pages or 500 words, double-spaced, 12-point font. In your statement, please include the following:

        • Tell us about how your background and experiences have prepared you for a career in higher education.
        • Discuss your aspirations and research interests, including:
          • Why are you interested in a Ph. D. in Higher Education at UNLV?
          • How does the Ph. D. support your professional goals?
          • Identify 1-2 areas of your research interest(s) and current program faculty you would like to work with and why.
    • A professional resumé or vita;
    • Verification of experience in higher education or related field;
    • Optional GRE scores;
    • Two letters of academic recommendation / professional reference;
    • Evidence of writing ability; specific instructions available during application process.
  3. After reviewing all materials, a select number of candidates will be invited for an interview with department faculty. The interview enables candidates to demonstrate their oral communication skills, commitment to continuing professional development, and to show their leadership, learning, and educational philosophy. Final admission will be based on evaluation of all application materials, including the interview.

For specific information on the Department Educational Psychology & Higher Education’s Higher Education Ph.D. programs, please visit the website. Applicants interested in receiving a graduate assistantship must complete the Graduate Assistantship Application found on the Graduate College website . Potential students should also inform the program or doctoral admissions coordinator of their interest in the program.

All domestic and international applicants must review and follow the Graduate College Admission and Registration Requirements.

Students are accepted into a degree program as described in the Graduate Catalog. The faculty and corresponding sub-disciplines and sub-plans within the described programs are subject to change at any time.

Plan Requirements

Total Credits Required: 66

Course Requirements

Research Elective Courses – Credits: 6

Complete two of the following courses in consultation with your program of study chair.

Internship Course – Credits: 3

Prospectus Course – Credits: 3

Dissertation – Credits: 12

Degree Requirements

  1. Students must complete a minimum of 66 credits of approved course work with a minimum GPA of 3.00.
  2. Students without a background in statistics may take EPY 721 – Descriptive/Inferential Statistics, but the course will not count as credits toward the doctoral program.
  3. In consultation with their advisor, a student will organize a dissertation committee of at least three departmental members. In addition, a fourth member from outside the department, known as the Graduate College Representative, must be appointed. An additional committee member may be added at the student and department’s discretion. Please see Graduate College policy for committee appointment guidelines.
  4. The doctoral comprehensive examination consists of two parts: A core examination and an individualized examination.
    • Part I: Core Examination:
      • The core examination is offered twice a year (usually September and February).
      • Students should take this examination as early in their programs as possible.
      • Students are eligible to take the Comprehensive Examinations if they have passed all core courses with a “B-” or better.
      • No student with anything less than a “B-” in any core course will be allowed to take the Comprehensive Examination.
      • A core course may be repeated, allowing the student an opportunity to earn a “B-” or better.
      • To be eligible to take this examination, students must have completed the required core courses, the required research courses, and the methodology course.
      • Each section of the comprehensive examination is taken over a two or three week period.
        • Section One: Covers research design. It draws heavily on EDH 707 and the research core. Students are encouraged to integrate information from other methods courses into their answers. Information about this question is provided to students prior to the examination.
        • Section Two: Affords student the opportunity to integrate basic historical, organizational, financial/economic, policy, and governance/legal perspectives into a discussion of their dissertation topic. Faculty members will meet with students prior to distributing this question to talk about specific, appropriate core areas that may be addressed in this section of the exam.
      • The evaluation rubric is available for download from the department website. Students who do not pass a section of the comprehensive exams meet with their current advisor to discuss options and potential remedies.
    • Part II: Individualized Examination:
      • The purpose of the individualized examination is to help students fill in gaps in their knowledge base and to help them move forward into the dissertation stage of the program.
  5. All students are required to engage in an internship experience. Each internship is an individually designed, semester-long experience that can be repeated for credit for up to a maximum of 6 credits. Ordinarily, the internship is completed after the student has successfully passed the core comprehensive examination. There are three types of internships for doctoral students: Administrative, Teaching, and Research:
    • Administrative internships enable students to apply theory to practice. Internship placements are available in a variety of professional settings including UNLV, the College of Southern Nevada, Nevada State College, the Nevada System of Higher Education administrative departments, as well as in neighboring institutions of higher education and government policy and business environments. These are challenging experiences in which students are expected to make meaningful contributions that advance the goals of the host site.
    • Teaching internships are done under the supervision of a faculty member. Doctoral teaching assistants may team with a faculty member in a Master’s course or teach undergraduate courses.
    • Research internships are usually done with the student’s doctoral chair. These internships allow students to team with a faculty member on a research-based project, which may entail design, data collection, analysis, or writing.
  6. Students must complete the residency requirement. Residency requirements are met following the completion of 42 credits, the comprehensive examinations, and by completing these outcomes:
    • Completion of remaining course work, including research courses and electives.
    • Combination of doctoral internships and/or independent studies, as advised by student’s doctoral advisor.
    • Successful completion of EDH 790 – Doctoral Internship and EDH 796 –Dissertation Proposal Preparation.
    • Encouraged to complete a national presentation and/or a manuscript submitted for publication consideration.
    • Students may use three credits of dissertation credits (EDH 799) towards their residency.
  7. Residency requirements and successful completion of the comprehensive exams must be fulfilled prior to the dissertation proposal defense. Students must review an outcomes checklist with their advisors prior to the proposal defense to verify completion of residency. Upon completion of residency students should have 9 to 12 dissertation credits remaining in the program of study.

Plan Graduation Requirements

The student must submit and successfully defend their dissertation by the posted deadline. The defense must be advertised and is open to the public.

After the dissertation defense, the student must electronically submit a properly formatted pdf copy of their dissertation to the Graduate College for format check. Once the dissertation format has been approved by the Graduate College, the student will submit the approved electronic version to ProQuest. Deadlines for dissertation defenses, format check submissions, and the final ProQuest submission can be found here

Students may apply for graduation up to two semesters prior to completing their degree requirements. All required forms must be submitted to the graduate college via the Grad Rebel Gateway.