Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership for Changing Populations

Program Description

The world is changing, with dramatic demographic shifts in not only the population of the United States as a whole, but also in the world of higher education.

Now, become the most effective leader possible for these new populations with the online Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership for Changing Populations from Notre Dame of Maryland University. You’ll gain hands-on experience with education practice and policy as you enhance your management and organizational experience. And when you graduate, you’ll be prepared to address the needs of colleges and universities with increasingly diverse populations.

  • 100% online coursework with no residency requirement
  • Affordable tuition and values-based curriculum
  • Rolling admission and multiple start dates
  • One weekend on campus for comprehensive exams

Potential Careers

  • University administration
  • Dean
  • Education researcher
  • College professor
  • Nonprofit director
  • Chief academic officer/Chief learning officer


Introductory Course (must be taken in the first or second semester of the program) EDU- Research Writing for Doctoral Students

Comprehensive Examinations

Students complete written and oral comprehensive examinations demonstrating knowledge of the broad conceptual and procedural aspects of instruction for changing populations. The written portion of the exam requires students to write essay answers demonstrating proficiency in writing, critical thinking, and holistic perspectives, and to demonstrate the ability to articulate perceived role as agents of change in education.

Written and oral examinations must be passed in the following areas:

  • Higher education theory
  • Philosophical perspectives of education
  • Changing populations

Written comprehensive examinations are administered in August and January. If a student fails any section of the examination, the student will have one opportunity to rewrite the failed section. Written examinations are read by two faculty members. In the event of divided scoring, a third faculty member will be asked to review the examination. After two failures of any section, the candidate may not continue in the Ph.D. program.

Written examinations are not returned to students.

Grades assigned to comprehensive examinations are:

  • High Pass
  • Pass
  • Fail

Students are officially notified of the results by the Assistant Dean, School of Education. Students must complete the comprehensive examination requirement within two years of completing course work.


The dissertation is the culmination of the student’s doctoral studies. In this scholarly work of original and independent research, the student addresses a problem or issue relevant to education, conducts research that is quantitative, qualitative, or historical/philosophical (depending on the chosen subject), and develops a dissertation that adds knowledge to the field.

During the dissertation courses (705 and 706), the student confers with the Dean, School of Education, to select a Dissertation Committee (a Chair and two readers) who are subsequently appointed by the Ph.D. Committee.

After completing the Dissertation Seminar(s), students must enroll in EDU-800 Dissertation Continuation for each academic semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer) until they graduate.

When the student completes the dissertation proposal and the Chair and two readers approve it, the student submits the proposal to the School of Education Ph.D. Committee to approve. Students are expected to submit a proposal to the School of Education Ph.D. Committee within two years of passing comprehensive examinations. If a student fails to submit a proposal within this timeline, the student must appeal to the Dean, School of Education, for an extension of time.

Advancement to Candidacy

Once the School of Education Ph.D. Committee approves the dissertation proposal, the student is considered a Ph.D. Candidate. The student then applies to the University IRB for approval of the research. This approval must be granted before the candidate can conduct the research.

Submission of the Dissertation

The candidate submits drafts of the dissertation to the dissertation Chair and readers for suggestions and review throughout the process of reading and writing. When the candidate, advisors, and readers agree that the dissertation is ready for final review by the School of Education Ph.D. Committee, the candidate submits required copies to the Dean, School of Education. The School of Education Ph.D. Committee reviews the full dissertation and if the Committee finds the dissertation to be satisfactory, the Committee schedules the defense. Manuscripts must follow the format expectations set forth in the Dissertation Handbook or will not be accepted by the Committee.

Dissertation Defense

The candidate defends the dissertation before the Ph.D. Committee in consultation with the advisor and readers. The defense must be successfully completed by April 1 for May graduation or by November 1 for December graduation. These are firm deadlines.

Candidates are expected to defend their dissertation within two years of being admitted to candidacy. If a candidate fails to defend a dissertation within this timeline, the candidate must appeal to the Dean, School of Education, for an extension of time.

Admissions Requirements

  • Completed Ph.D. application
  • Official transcript(s) – Please provide all official transcripts from undergraduate, graduate and/or community college course work. Students with degrees from universities outside of the United States should submit an official translated transcript. For information about a World Education Services (WES) course by course evaluation, please visit
  • Two letters of recommendation (see recommendation forms)
  • Personal statement
  • GRE or Miller Analogy Test Scores (if needed – please consult with your enrollment manager)

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Tuition And Financial Aid

  • Tuition: $635 per credit
  • Registration/Technology Fee (nonrefundable): $195 per term

Financial Aid



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