Javascript is currently not supported, or is disabled by this browser. Please enable Javascript for full functionality.

Skip to Main Content
2019-2020 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog
University of Pittsburgh
2019-2020 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Apr 19, 2021
2019-2020 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Higher Education Management, PhD

Return to School of Education Return to: School of Education

The University of Pittsburgh School of Education’s Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs prepare students to be nationally competitive and highly qualified for research careers in both academic and non-academic institutions. Our full-time, research-intensive PhDs produce scholars who demonstrate excellent writing and research skills, independent scholarship and productivity, and proficiency in teaching. Under the guidance of our distinguished graduate faculty, students will have the opportunity to produce peer-reviewed publications, present at professional conferences, and collaborate on grant-writing and review, positioning them to excel in their careers as researchers and faculty. Because the PhDs are full-time, students can be fully immersed in their coursework and research in preparation for an impactful scholarly career.

The Higher Education Management program is committed to advancing scholarship, research, and practice in the field of higher education. Designed for domestic and international students who aspire to careers as scholar-researchers, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree prepares students for positions as university faculty, researchers at educational think tanks and major policy institutes, and as leaders of administrative units with teaching and research responsibilities. Students pursuing a PhD in higher education have research interests ranging from student access to student outcomes, diversity and equity, international and comparative education, administration and management, and policy studies.

Students pursuing the PhD degree have widespread opportunities to engage closely with and learn from faculty who conduct cutting-edge research in the field and who have a strong commitment to high-quality teaching. Students are afforded the opportunity to work with faculty members to conduct research, present at professional conferences, and publish prior to the completion of their degrees. The faculty have expertise in both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, and do both applied and basic research, all with a focus on improving educational outcomes.

The PhD degree program in higher education includes a core set of courses designed for students to gain an understanding of historical, political, philosophical, and social elements that shape and continue to reshape higher education. These courses include Higher Education Administration, the Politics and History of Higher Education, Higher Education Research Frameworks and Theory, and Higher Education Policy and Issues. These courses are complemented by core courses within the department of Administrative and Policy Studies designed to ground students in the study education as a discipline. Students develop an area of research specialization within the field of higher education and take other courses at the School of Education as well as courses outside of the school that complement their specialization. In addition, through a strong focus within the program on rigorous methodological training, students gain competency in both quantitative and qualitative research methods and take advanced courses in the methodological approaches they plan to utilize in their research.




All students admitted into the ADMPS PhD Program are required to complete a minimum of 90 credits of coursework to fulfill their degree requirements. This coursework is broken into the following six categories: Department Core Courses, Specialization Courses, Research Methods Courses, Supporting Field Courses, Supervised Research Credits, and Dissertation Credits.

Several Courses should be taken in the first year: ADMPS 3003 (Theories of Educational Inequality), ADMPS 3001 (Research Methods), as well as the two first-year seminars that all PhD students school-wide take. Students may elect to take some combination of the required research methods courses in the first year or substantive courses. However, EDUC 3100 (Introduction to Quantitative Methods) and EDUC 3101 (Intermediate Quantitative Methods) are offered in the fall and spring and would ideally be taken in back-to-back semesters.

The two first-year seminars meet every other week (1 credit in Fall and 2 credits in Spring taken over and above the typical 9-credit course load) and focus on familiarizing students with practical and ethical issues in research (e.g., resolving questions of authorship and authorship order, human subjects guidelines), and supporting students’ work on their pre- dissertation proposal (Milestone 1) (e.g., developing innovative research questions, conducting a literature review). As part of the fall first-year seminar, students will complete the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) training courses. CITI courses are an online system required to access the Institutional Review Board (IRB) system, where study protocol are submitted in order to receive permission to collect data on human subjects. This is mandatory for all researchers and students.

Writing Seminar.  In years 2-4, all students take the 1-credit writing seminar (EDUC 3087).  This course is taken each fall and spring to support milestone work and other writing projects. Note: EDUC 3087 credits do not count towards 90 required credits.

Research Methods. The PhD program places a special emphasis on research methods. Preparing students to tackle policy problems, and create innovative research agendas, requires intentionality in the methods coursework that supports students’ development of independent projects, meaningful contributions to advisors’ research, and critical analysis of past research. To help ensure that students develop the necessary analytic competencies, students are required to complete a minimum of 6 methods courses: Introduction to Quantitative Methods (EDUC 3100) and Intermediate Quantitative Methods (EDUC 3103); Introduction to Qualitative methods (EDUC 3104); and 3 seminars in advanced quantitative or qualitative methods.

Supporting Field. All PhD students are required to have 9-18 credits in a disciplinary area outside of the School of Education in order to meet the University cognate requirement. For a student who does not have a bachelor’s degree in an academic discipline/field other than education, a minimum of 18 credits must be taken outside the School of Education in one discipline (e.g., sociology, political science, economics, mathematics or biology) or in an interdisciplinary concentration (e.g., Latin American studies, psycholinguistics, business, public and international affairs, etc.).

For a student who has a bachelor’s degree in an academic discipline, or an equivalent number of credits to that for a bachelor’s degree in an academic discipline, a minimum of 9 credits must be taken outside the School of Education in one field or in an interdisciplinary concentration. None of the 9 credits may be used to satisfy research methodology requirements. For a student who has a master’s degree or an equivalent number of credits toward a master’s degree in a relevant academic discipline, no additional credits outside the School of Education need to be taken but a Transfer of Credit Form must be submitted with the Plan of Study.

Supervised Research. A minimum of 6 credits of ADMPS 3097: Supervised Research is required for PhD students. The School-wide requirement of 6 credits is tied to students’ work on their pre- dissertation research projects (Milestone 2) and the Doctoral Comprehensive exam (Milestone 3). Supervised research credits are taken with individual faculty (typically the advisor

Dissertation Research Credits. All students are required to register for 18 credits of ADMPS 3099 Guidance in the Doctoral Degree (3090 or other credits can be used in some cases). Once students have completed all credit requirements, including 18 credits of dissertation research, they can register for full-time dissertation study at a reduced rate of tuition in order to maintain access to university resources.

Specialization courses specifically for HEM include ADMPS 2307 (Politics and History of Higher Education), which students must transfer in or take in their first year of PhD study, along with more than a dozen HEM concentration courses (see plan of studies). In particular, the HEM faculty recommend taking, as primary HEM courses: Foundations in Higher Education; Theory and Frameworks in Higher Education; Policy Studies in Higher Education; Economics and Finance of Higher Education.


Return to School of Education Return to: School of Education

Catalog Navigation