Ph.D. or D.Ed.

Information about the Doctoral program provided by the Penn State College of Education.

For details on applying to the Ph.D. or D.Ed. degree, visit How to Apply

The Higher Education doctoral program, whether a Ph.D. or D.Ed. degree, consists of three phases below.  Click here for a comparison of the Ph.D. and D.Ed degrees.

The initial phase stresses the integration of the academic disciplines with the professional study of higher education in the "core" areas of study of the program. The five courses and areas examined are: (1) History of American Higher Education; (2) Administration of Higher Education; (3) Curriculum and Instruction in Higher Education; (4) Higher Education Students and Clientele; and (5) Organizational Theory in Higher Education.

The second phase involves an increased emphasis upon the more specialized studies and experiences related to the student's identified area of study concentration and professional emphasis. This phase consists of various sequences of advanced courses and seminars, independent study, practicums, internships, and related research activities, which usually include the exploration and identification of probable topics for doctoral research. This phase emphasizes the student's use of appropriate methodologies and the development of a variety of techniques for studying a wide range of problems. These might include comparative studies of institutions, interdisciplinary investigations of programs and instructional procedures, historical case studies, analyses of the dynamics of program and organizational reform and innovation, and the construction and testing of theoretical models.

In the final phase, the doctoral student concentrates on research and writing of a doctoral thesis related to the student's area of specialization and professional interest. The student and his/her doctoral committee determines the subject and focus of this research undertaking, utilizing an appropriate set of theoretical constructs, data-gathering methodologies, and analytical techniques. While the degree work could be completed in three years, the length of time to complete the degree will depend upon the individual student's time and effort.