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Option in Higher Education

The PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with an option in Higher Education is a research-focused degree designed to prepare you with the knowledge and skills to lead in a complex, contemporary higher education environment. Our curriculum and professional development activities link research and practice, providing you with both empirical knowledge and innovative skills. Our graduates go on to serve as leaders, administrators, faculty and policy analysts in higher education and higher education adjacent organizations across the country and around the world.


Designed for working professionals, but flexible enough for full time students, our hybrid-delivery cohort-based program is a minimum of 63 hours beyond the master’s degree. It is designed for you to complete six credit hours during fall, spring and most summers. Only three in-person days are required each fall and spring semester at the Stillwater campus for hybrid courses and professional development. Two of the in-person days are scheduled for the third week of the semester; one is schedule for the tenth week (changes due to holidays or other conflicts will be announced annually). The remainder of coursework and meetings are completed online in synchronous or asynchronous mode.

With an 85% completion rate, our hybrid format allows you to further your education and career while maintaining other core responsibilities - you can keep your day job. 


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 long history of international collaborations. 


Course information

Kamm Distinguished Graduate Fellowship

Graduate Certificate in Hidden Student Populations

Graduate Certificate Facilitating Career Development


Research and Faculty

Our student-oriented faculty are grounded in the history and mission of higher education and are 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: 

  • College-bound and in-college hidden student populations (The R4T Collective) 
  • Socially-just education
  • Diverse student learning outcomes
  • Place-based community-university engagement
  • Organizational issues in higher education
  • International issues in higher education and student affairs 


Meet our faculty

College research initiatives



Applications are accepted once per year by February 1 for the fall semester.  


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
  • Two letters of recommendation, with a minimum of one that speaks to your ability to be successful in graduate work
  • Personal statement (2-3 pages, double spaced) with the following sections:
    • Why you wish to complete a PhD and why is now the right time for you
    • Higher education and related experience preparing you for a PhD
    • Career goals/how you hope to utilize PhD
    • Your support systems for degree completion (existing and planned, people and systems)
    • Your research interests
    • A list of your previous coursework in statistics and/or research design with associated completion dates (should be identifiable on transcripts submitted); this coursework not required for acceptance to the program.
  • Current TOEFL/IELTS scores for international applicants (required to establishEnglish proficiency) 
  • Interview: Program faculty may request an interview with the applicant. 


Graduate student resources


Cost & Assistance

Graduate Research Associate (GRA) positions in on-campus departments and programs may be available 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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