Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies (Ph.D.) Program Details

Degree Requirements

    ❱   Required coursework
    ❱   Qualifying or comprehensive examination
    ❱   Graduate School writing proficiency requirement
    ❱   Graduate School Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) requirement
    ❱   Dissertation 
    ❱   Final oral examination/Dissertation defense

The HELPS program fills a distinct need 

The organizations listed below have underscored the need for a Ph.D. program like HELPS that provides an authentic and intentional focus on the lived realities and complexities of Minority-Serving Institutions:

    ❱   U.S Department of Education
    ❱   The United Negro College Fund
    ❱   White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities
    ❱   American Council on Education
    ❱   American Public-Land Grant Universities
    ❱   National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education
    ❱   Excelencia

Cohort members of the HELPS Program:

  • Students with various academic backgrounds in Higher Education, Student Affairs, Educational Psychology, and other fields
  • Future leaders of higher education in general and Minority-Serving Institutions specifically who aim to become college presidents, executive administrators, student affairs professionals, and faculty members
  • While many of the cohort members are interested in studying HBCUs, several are interested in HSIs, AANAPISIs, TCUs, and PBIs
  • While several cohort members are working full-time, some have graduate assistantship positions on campus and at one of our policy partners- UNCF, ACE, Excelencia, and Ed Trust

Learn about how the Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies (Ph.D.) program Is Producing Scholars For The Future of Higher Education

Research Areas & Interests 

Faculty Research Interests

A sampling of research interests

  • The myth of 'Post-Racial' in higher education
  • UNCF and its role in policy advocacy for Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • HBCU engagement in state policymaking.
  • Nexus between policy and practice for diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education
  • State performance funding
  • The contemporary landscape of policy making, including the structures, spaces, actors, and stakeholders involved in the process of policymaking
  • Role various constituencies, movements, and politics play in the governance and administration of HBCUs
  • Reimagining campus climate assessment at HBCUs
  • Role of higher education trustee boards, higher education trustee board members, and trustee board relationships with various constituents
  • Tactics for engaging in diversity work in a race-adverse climate
  • Reimagining HBCU leaders as policy actors
  • Outcomes-based funding and race in higher education

Program of Study* 


ELPS 604 History of Higher Education

ELPS 608 Law in Higher Education

ELPS 611 Board and Community Relations

ELPS 605 Higher Education Policy

ELPS 603 College and University Presidents

ELPS 602 Minority Serving Institutions

ELPS 606 Higher Ed Administration & Governance

ELPS 607 Diversity and Multiculturalism in Higher Education

ELPS 613 Financial Management in Higher Education

ELPS 517 Workshop on Leadership Development

ELPS 514 Organizational Change in Education


HUDE 400 Intermediate Statistics

HUDE 500 Advanced Statistics

ELPS 524 Introduction to Qualitative Research

ELPS 609 Advanced Qualitative Research

HUDE 501 Research Design & Analysis

ELPS 615 Research Practicum


ELPS 612 Contemporary Issues in Student Affairs

ELPS 613 Fundraising in Higher Education

ELPS 614 Institutional Research

ELPS 455 Ethics in Decision Making

ELPS 616 Black Women in Higher Edu Leadership


ELPS 599 Research Preparation Seminar

ELPS 600 Dissertation Guidance

*Courses included in the sample program of study are subject to change. Students should consult with their programs regarding their required program of study. 

Admission to Candidacy

Students are admitted to formal candidacy by the Graduate School when they have completed the required coursework, passed the qualifying or comprehensive examination, submitted an approved topic for research, and been recommended by the Department. Candidates must have also satisfied the Graduate School writing proficiency requirement and Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Workshop requirement.

Graduate Funding 

Admitted students may be eligible to compete for Graduate School competitive awards, which provide tuition remission and a stipend during the academic year. Additionally, graduate research or teaching assistantships may be available at the department level. Research assistants and teaching assistants work no more than 20 hours a week under the program's direction, usually in support of faculty research (research assistants) or in support of assigned courses (teaching assistants). Please see the Funding website for more detailed information.