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Higher Education Administration


The mission of the Higher Education Administration PhD program is to offer advanced graduate study to those students aspiring to enhance their leadership knowledge and skill for service in their current positions; to establish knowledge and skill bases for more responsible and executive leadership appointment; and to build the capacity and inclination for active participation in policy for service in administrative, faculty, and policy scholar roles.

Program Assumptions

The program builds on three assumptions about leadership: Leadership is a conceptual, moral, and performing art form based on (a) the power of theory and ideas, (b) the influence of thoughtfully considered values, and (c) the development of skill that derives from the traffic between theory and practice.

Leadership is as much a matter of passion as position. Those who do not care for the promise of those entrusted to their care and who do not care for principles of excellence and integrity will not lead.

Leadership in college and university settings requires: (a) an awareness of heritage and distinction in the complex mission of colleges and universities and (b) appreciation of the mission tension reflected in the call to simultaneously conserve heritage, critique current policy and practice, and create the future through the unimpeded pursuit and application of truth.


Program Requirements (72 hours, including 48 hours of coursework and 24 hours of dissertation)

ELPS Foundations (9 hours)
ELPS 695: Seminar in Educational Leadership
HEAM/EDAM 629: Seminar in Policy Issues in Education
HEAM/EDAM 670: Values and Ethics in Educational Leadership 

Research Core (18 hours)
ELPS 615: Research Design
EDPY 577: Statistics in Applied Fields
EDPY 677: Advanced Statistics in Applied Fields
ELPS 618: Advanced Qualitative Research
ELPS 612: Academic Writing
Advanced Methods (Choose one or advisor approved substitute)

ELPS 616: Mixed Methods Research
ELPS 617: Case Study Methods in Educational Research

Higher Education Core (15 hours)
HEAM 605: Advanced Seminar in Administrative Theory
HEAM 619: Administration and Governance of Higher Education
HEAM 650: Fiscal Policy Issues in Higher Education
ELPS 695: Legal Aspects of Higher Education
ELPS 695: Students in Postsecondary Education

Electives (6 hours)
Students must select at a minimum two graduate-level electives, in consultation with their advisor. These courses may be from outside the department.

Dissertation (24 hours)
ELPS 600: Doctoral Research and Dissertation
All students must enroll for 24 semester hours of dissertation to complete the PhD degree. Once enrollment in ELPS 600 dissertation has begun, the student must remain enrolled each semester.

Download a copy of the Full Time Student Timeline Download a copy of the Part Time Student Timeline

If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 865-974-2216. We also welcome personal visits from interested students and would be pleased to arrange opportunities for you to meet the faculty and other students and to see the community of the university and Knoxville.