Higher Education
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

PhD in Higher Education (pending SCHEV approval)

Note: As of catalog publication in April, this program 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. 

The PhD 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 relate to or impact higher education. Students may concentrate in administration, the scholarship of teaching and learning, or individualized studies (one they create in consultation with an advisor).

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on program requirements and courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes. Requirements may be different for earlier catalog years. See the University Catalog archives.

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 72

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.

Core Courses

HE 702 Contemporary and Critical Theories in Higher Education 3
HE 703 Digital Technologies and Learning 3
HE 704 The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 3
HE 705 Access and Social Justice 3
HE 710 Leadership in Higher Education 3
HE 722 Organization and Administration in Higher Education 3
Total Credits 18

Research Methods

Required Courses
HE 805 Research Methodologies in Higher Education 3
HE 806 Qualitative Methods in Higher Education Research 3
HE 807 Quantitative Methods in Higher Education Research 3
Two Additional Methods Courses
Students will choose two additional methods courses with one being in either advanced qualitative or quantitative methods. 1 6
Total Credits 15
1

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.

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.

HE 624 Finance and Fiscal Management in Higher Education 3
HE 701 Higher Education Law 3
HE 711 Policy Analysis in Higher Education 3
HE 712 Advanced Institutional and Program Assessment in Higher Education 3
One elective course chosen from either the scholarship of teaching and learning concentration or another course at Mason. 1 3
Total Credits 15
1

Choice of elective will be approved by the portfolio committee.

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.

HE 602 College Teaching 3
HE 603 Higher Education in the Digital Age 3
HE 605 Learning Assessment 3
HE 645 The Contemporary College Student 3
One elective course chosen from either the higher education administration concentration or another course at Mason. 1 3
Total Credits 15
1

Choice of elective will be approved by the portfolio committee.

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.

Select fifteen credits that meet objectives and have been approved by the portfolio committee. 1 15
Total Credits 15

Electives

Student 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.

Select 9 credits from the following: 9
Diversity in Higher Education
Student Services in Higher Education
Student Development Theory
The Internationalization of Higher Education
Total Credits 9

Portfolio Review

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:

  1. the first after a student completes 18 credits (portfolio 1)
  2. the second after the completion of 36 credits (portfolio 2)
  3. 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 HE 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal with an approved dissertation proposal.

Dissertation 

To enroll in HE 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal, students must have a dissertation chair. Once students enroll in HE 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal, 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 or 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 credit hours and successfully completed three portfolio reviews.

Once enrolled in HE 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal, students in this degree program must maintain continuous registration in HE 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal or HE 999 Doctoral Dissertation each semester (excluding summers) until the dissertation is submitted to and accepted by the University Libraries. Once enrolled in HE 999 Doctoral Dissertation, students must follow the university's continuous registration policy as specified in AP.6.10.6 Dissertation Research. Students who defend in the summer must be registered for at least 1 credit of HE 999 Doctoral Dissertation.

Students complete a minimum of 3 credits of HE 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal and a minimum of 3 credits of HE 999 Doctoral Dissertation. They must apply a minimum of 15 dissertation credits (HE 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal and HE 999 Doctoral Dissertation combined) to the degree. Because of the continuous registration policy, students may be required to register for additional credits of these courses.

HE 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal 1-3
HE 999 Doctoral Dissertation 1-12
Total Credits 2-15
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