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Option in Higher Education

The PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, option in Higher Education is a research-focused degree designed to prepare you to contribute to the field of higher education as an administrator, scholar or policy analyst. We use existing theory and research to enhance administrative practice in diverse and complex higher education settings. Our graduates go on to conduct research that explores the historic, contemporary and/or emerging issues in higher education policy and practice and hold higher education leadership positions across the country and around the world.


This 63-credit hour program includes course delivery designed for both working professionals and full-time students. We generally follow a cohort model, allowing you to progress to graduation with a peer support group. Successful degree completion includes a minimum of 15 hours of doctoral dissertation and completion of a professional development sequence. All students are advised by full-time program faculty, and most coursework is taught face-to-face or through hybrid delivery formats.

We offer an international higher education class that may include overseas travel. Our dual degree master’s and doctoral programs with the Universidad Popular Autonoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP) in Puebla, Mexico, allow students to take coursework from both OSU and UPAEP and earn either a master’s or doctoral degree from both institutions. We also have a strong international focus demonstrated through additional international collaborations, centers and global internship opportunities.  


Course information

Joint Center for Student Affairs Research and Professional Practice

Partnership with the University of Science and Technology Beijing

Kamm Lecture in Higher Education


Research and Faculty

Our student-oriented faculty are grounded in the history and mission of higher education, as well as attuned to emerging trends in global higher education. We focus on equipping contemporary professionals for the diverse context of today’s world.


Faculty research expertise includes:

  • Hidden college student populations and higher education institutions (R is for Thursday)
  • Socially just education
  • Diverse student-learning outcomes
  • University and community engagement
  • Organizational issues in higher education
  • International issues in higher education and student affairs
  • Higher education policy analysis


Meet our faculty

College research initiatives



Applications are accepted once per year by April 1 for the fall semester. Alternative entrance times may be available; please email  for more information. Our PhD students are admitted annually at our main OSU-Stillwater campus and, typically, every three years at an off-site location in the Oklahoma City metro.


To apply for the PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, option in Higher Education program, complete the following:

  • Graduate College application
  • Transcripts from all previously attended institutions (3.0 minimum graduate GPA required)
  • Current résumé/vita
  • Three letters of recommendation (prefer at least one from a previous faculty member)
  • Career objectives and personal goal statement (1-2 paged total, double spaced) 
  • Academic or scholarly writing sample (optional)
  • Current TOEFL/IELTS scores for international applicants (required to establish English proficiency
  • Interview: Program faculty may request an interview with the applicant.

Graduate student resources


Cost & Assistance

Graduate assistantships, as either a Graduate Teaching Associate (GTA) or Graduate Research Associate (GRA) in on-campus departments and programs, may be offered on a competitive basis to full-time students. Learn about assistantships offered through the OSU Division of Student Affairs.

Currently enrolled students are also eligible for scholarships offered through the College of Education and Human Sciences.




Financing graduate school


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