Ed.D. in Higher Education


The Ed.D. in Higher Education prepares graduates for careers as leaders and researchers by providing them with a broad and systematic understanding of higher education, a definitive knowledge of selected aspects of educational theory and practice, and an ability to apply research in an informed and critical manner to educational practice and problems.

Ed.D. students in higher education complete a program of study consisting of at least 57 hours of coursework (excluding capstone credits), including a required higher education core (21 credits), a minor in research methods (15 credits), a content minor organized around a theme or set of questions of the student’s choice (12 credits), and elective courses in higher education (9 credits). Students choose their content minor with the advice and consent of their advisors. Courses for the content minor may be taken outside of the program and the Curry School. Typical content minor areas include student affairs, higher education policy, the organization and governance of higher education, the economics of higher education, and the social foundations of higher education.

Students entering the doctoral program with a master’s degree can apply up to 24 hours of credit to their doctoral program, provided that the program head judges that the courses are sufficiently comparable to substitute for courses offered in the doctoral program. Ed.D. students must participate in an internship. Internships typically occupy approximately 20 hours of each student’s week for two academic years. Paid employment in a college or university or other practice setting may be substituted for an on-Grounds internship, provided that the student receives supervision and training throughout this experience.

While Ed.D. students may study on a part-time basis, high-level professional training and intellectual development require a concentrated experience that is possible only through sustained involvement in the academic and other activities of the Center and University. Participation in Center research and service projects, informal work with individual faculty members, and sustained interaction with other students all add substantially to the coursework. In short, to round out an advanced degree program, a student is expected to participate in and contribute to a rich academic community.

Higher Education Doctoral Handbook

Program Details


  • Prerequisites and Admission Requirements

    The following materials are required:

    • Two recommendations should be solicited through the online application; at least one should be an academic reference.
    • Upload your goal statement (3-5 pages, speaks to reasons for pursuing the degree, including academic and professional goals), unofficial transcripts, resumé, and a writing sample (preferably a paper completed in a master's program) to your application. 
    • Unofficial GRE scores (taken within 5 years) are accepted when applying. Official scores and transcripts will be required once an offer of admission is accepted.

    Applicants are welcome but are not required to come to Curry for an interview. To schedule an interview or a campus visit, please contact Christian Steinmetz at cls5p@virginia.edu.

    Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all required materials are submitted by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be read and may be cancelled if left incomplete. Materials should be tracked using the checklist in the application.

  • Application Due Date

    April 15

    Decisions will be available 6 weeks after the deadline.

    Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all required materials are submitted by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be read and may be cancelled if left incomplete. Materials should be tracked using the checklist in the application.

  • Degree Requirements

    Core Courses (21 credits)
    EDLF 5810 Introduction to the Study of Higher Education
    EDLF 8651 History of Higher Education
    EDLF 5830 College Student Experience
    EDLF 6020 Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in Higher Education 
    EDLF 8662 Politics and Education
    EDLF 8654 Organization and Governance in Higher Education 
    OR
    EDLF 5820 Organization and Management of Colleges & Universities 
    EDLF 6010 Financial Management & Budgeting in Higher Education
    OR  
    EDLF 8680 Economics and Education Policy

    2. Higher Education Electives (a minimum of 6 credits required)
    EDLF 5500 Selected Topics
    EDLF 7130 College Student Development
    EDLF 8653 Curriculum in Higher Education
    EDLF 6030 Student Affairs in Higher Education
    EDLF 8658 Management and Planning in Higher Education
    EDLF 8664 The Community College
    EDLF 8665 Contemporary Issues: Entrepreneurship in Higher Education
    EDLF 8663 The American Professoriate
    EDLF 8680 Economics and Education Policy (if not taken for the core requirement)

    3.  Research Minor (minimum of 18 credits)
    EDLF 8382 Education Inquiry for Practitioners 
    EDLF 5300 Academic Writing Lab
    EDLF 8383 Qualitative Inquiry with Data Management and Analysis
    EDLF 8384 Lab of Practice of Qualitative Inquiry 
    EDLF 8385 Survey Inquiry for Practitioners with Data Management and Analysis
    EDLF 8386 Lab of Survey Inquiry
    EDLF 8387 Practical Evaluation for Practitioners 
    EDLF 9810 Research Seminar in Higher Education (This course is designed to prepare doctoral students to write their capstone proposals and may be taken only by individuals who have finished the research sequence and have no more than six credits to complete.)
    NOTE: Students who have not had an introduction to educational research course or its equivalent must take EDLF 7300, Foundations of Educational Research, as their elective.

    4. Content Minor (a minimum of 12 credits)
    Students may take their content minor courses outside the program and the Curry School, or they may choose courses from other Curry programs. The minor is meant to supply the student with substantive knowledge of and a theoretical grounding in an area that might be the topic of the dissertation. Courses to be taken for minor credit must be negotiated with and approved by the student’s advisor.

    5. Capstone (12 credits minimum required)
    EDLF 9991 Ed.D. Research (may be repeated for credit)

  • Funding Opportunities

    Ed.D. students in the higher education program typically are supported through paid internships. Students who want to apply for an internship should submit an application form to the program head as soon as they have accepted admittance (Higher Ed Internship Application).

    Students may also apply for federal financial aid such as loans or grants by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who have financial need and who are not dependents of their parents may also qualify for work-study stipends. Applications and further information is available from the Office of Student Financial Services.

    Once enrolled in the School of Education, students are eligible for Curry Foundation scholarships and awards. The majority of these scholarships and awards are based on merit and financial need.

  • Typical Length of Study

    2-3 full years for coursework, plus capstone research

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at http://records.ureg.virginia.edu/index.php.