Note: As of catalog publication in April, the program described below has been approved by the Board of Visitors and sent to the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia for consideration as a new degree program. The university cannot accept applications or enroll students in this program until SCHEV approval has been granted. Check the college/school website for current program status.
The Higher Education Program at George Mason University focuses on leadership, the scholarship of teaching and learning, administration, and assessment. This interdisciplinary, graduate-level curriculum prepares individuals for positions of leadership in teaching, research, and administration at community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities around the globe. The program also prepares students for positions in associations, government agencies, and industries whose activities related to or impact higer education. Students may concentrate in administration, the scholarship of teaching and learning, or individualized studies (one they create in consultation with an advisor).
For policies governing all graduate degrees, see the Academic Policies section of the catalog.
Students must have a master's degree before being admitted to the PhD in higher education. A reduction of credit of up to 24 credits may be received based on the previous master's degree and is determined on an individual basis.
The purpose of the doctorate is to ensure mastery of scholarship and its application. In addition to satisfying the requirements for all doctoral degrees, students pursuing this degree are required to complete 72 credits.
These courses are designed to develop leaders in higher education so emphasize a broad knowledge base. Courses concentrate on scholarship and practice in student learning and development, and organizational strategies in higher education.
Students will choose two additional methods courses with one being in either advanced qualitative or quantitative methods. Additional possible advanced methods courses include case study methodology, mixed-methods, structural equation modeling, and multivariate statistics. The advanced methods courses are offered in the Departments of Psychology and Sociology and Anthropology in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as the College of Education and Human Development, and must be approved by the advising portfolio committee.
Students choose from one of three secondary concentrations: Higher Education Administration, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, or Individualized Study. Each concentration is designed around a specific sub-field and will be guided by a student's professional and research goals.
◊ Concentration in Higher Education Administration (HEDA)
Students in the higher education administration concentration will acquire advanced knowledge and understanding of legal issues, finance and budgeting, institutional assessment, leadership theories and practices, and the role of student services through the following required concentration courses:
◊ Concentration in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (STL)
Students in the scholarship of teaching and learning concentration acquire advanced knowledge and understanding of the latest theories and research on pedagogy, student learning, learning assessment, and teaching with technology through the following required concentration courses:
◊ Concentration in Individualized Study (INDV)
Students in the individualized study concentration will acquire advanced skills in an area intentionally designed to meet a set of objectives clearly articulated by the student and approved by the portfolio committee. This concentration will likely include courses with a more multidisciplinary perspective and be taken from programs across Mason. When consistent with Mason policy and students' learning goals, students may use master's course work toward individualized study concentration credits.
Three elective courses (9 credits)
Students select an additional three courses as electives. These are designed to provide additional content knowledge and skills in subjects that relate to both areas of concentrations. Electives are selected from the following courses:
Students will engage in a comprehensive portfolio review process throughout their course work to document accomplishments, assess student growth and development, and provide opportunity for faculty to suggest changes that more closely tie student research and professional goals to the program of study. Three portfolios must be submitted: the first after a student completes 18 credits (portfolio 1), the second after the completion of 36 credits (portfolio 2), and the third once course work is completed to finalize dissertation plans, steps, and timeline. The portfolio review process requires a committee of three faculty members who review the portfolios and meet with the student after each portfolio is submitted.
Advancement to candidacy
Students must advance to candidacy within six years of enrollment in the program and graduate from the program within nine years. Students will advance to candidacy after completing all course work successfully completing all three portfolio reviews, and successfully completing 998 with an approved dissertation proposal.
Dissertation Research (15 credits)
To enroll in HE 998 - Doctoral Dissertation Proposal, students must have a dissertation chair. Once students enroll in 998, students are required to form a dissertation committee consisting of three faculty with one designated as a chair. At least one member of the committee must be from the Higher Education Program unit. Students must also have two additional members with graduate faculty status who could be from another department of college at George Mason University.
The dissertation should use theoretical and social science or humanities methods to address a problem within higher education research, teaching, and practice that is framed by the empirical literature. The dissertation process begins after the student has successfully completed all required 48 credits hours and successfully completed three portfolio reviews.
Once enrolled in 998, students in this degree program must maintain continuous registration in 998 or 999 each semester (excluding summers) until the dissertation is submitted to and accepted by the University Libraries. Once enrolled in 999, students must follow the university's continuous registration policy as specified in the Academic Policies section of the catalog. Students who defend in the summer must be registered for at least 1 credit of 999.
Students complete a minimum of 3 credits of 998 and a minimum of 3 credits of 999. They must apply a minimum of 15 dissertation credits (998 and 999 combined) to the degree. Because of the continuous registration policy, students may be required to register for additional credits of these courses.
Requirements may be different for earlier catalog years. See the University Catalog archives.