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Education and Human Development


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Higher Education - Doctoral Program


The doctoral program in Higher Education prepares ethical, visionary, informed, and competent programmatic and institutional leaders for increasingly diverse and technologically advanced colleges and universities.

Through its structure and content, the doctoral degree in Higher Education provides mid-career professionals with the theoretical and practical frameworks to understand colleges and universities as complex organizations within the American social context including foundations in leadership, law and policy, socio-cultural identity differences/diversity, ethical professional practice, historical context, research, and technological competence. Students develop advanced research skills to explore critical questions related to these areas through coursework, evaluating existing scholarship, and by conducting original research.

Graduates of the Higher Education program will provide leadership characterized by:

The structure of the program entails 90 credit hours past the bachelor’s degree. Admission requires a master’s degree for which 45 to 60 credits may be applied to the doctoral degree, upon approval of program faculty. The master’s need not be in Education.

The student’s program consists of a variety of group and individualized experiences culminating in the dissertation including:

  • The Professional Core:
    a broad, common strand of doctoral level course work required of all students in the Higher Education program (18 credit hours)
  • Research Foundation:
    a set of courses to provide expertise in evaluating and conducting research in educational settings including basic statistics and introductory qualitative research, research design and either advanced statistics or advanced qualitative research (a minimum of 12 credit hours)
  • Professional specialization:
    a set of interdisciplinary courses tailored to the individual professional goals, needs and interests (a minimum of 18 credit hours which may include master’s work and work transferred from other institutions)
  • An applied internship or field research, and Dissertation research structured to solve problems or produce knowledge with direct applicability to higher educational practice (a minimum of 6 credit hours)

Coursework connects theory with practice employing case study methods, experiential learning, writing, interpersonal interaction, and analysis. A common core of seminars related to higher education provide a base of knowledge, theory, analysis skills, and leadership skills related to higher education. Core emphases in written and oral communications, ethics, technology and its applications in teaching, learning and administration, collaboration, problem-solving, political and organizational analysis, the dynamics of diversity, conflict resolution, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving will be addressed in streams across courses as well in individual courses. Consideration of dissertation research begins in the first semester of doctoral study so that subsequent coursework can more effectively build toward this culminating effort.

A selection of professional specialty courses tailored to the individual student’s research and professional aspirations build on the professional core courses. Research courses further prepare the student for doctoral level research and provide analysis skills for the professional setting. Finally, students are encouraged to pursue internships, practica and/or independent studies that will provide practical exposure to the concepts they are studying.

Download the Handbook for the Doctoral Program (PDF)

Download the PhD Program of Study (PDF)

Image Description: Student in the classroom

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Contact Information

Education and Human Development
5766 Shibles Hall
Orono, ME 04469
Phone: (207) 581-2412
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
207.581.1110
A Member of the University of Maine System