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

Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies (Ph.D.) | Graduate

Our Ph.D. program in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies prepares graduates for rewarding careers in higher education administration, institutional assessment, policy analysis, student affairs, and for leadership or management positions as college presidents, provosts, and vice presidents at higher education institutions, particularly Minority Serving Institutions.

The Ph.D. program in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies (HELPS) at Howard's Graduate School prepares graduates for rewarding leadership and management careers in higher education. Our Ph.D. program also prepares graduates to become policy advocates for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). Our program emphasizes theoretical, conceptual, and practical foundations in university fundraising, board and community relations, accreditation, diversity, access, education equity, contemporary issues in higher education, and ethics in decision-making. You will gain exposure to guest lectures and workshops from MSI presidents and other administrative leaders, providing salient and current insights into effective higher education leadership at MSIs. Our doctoral students benefit from collaborative opportunities to work at leading higher education policy agencies and organizations in Washington, D.C. Direct engagement with policymakers, lobbyists, and practitioners provide students with a deep understanding of the relationship between education policy and higher education operations. It prepares students to become policy advocates for MSIs. The program partners with four D.C.-based organizations—American Council on Education, Excelencia in Education, United Negro College Fund, and The Education Trust—to provide students with graduate assistantships. Students benefit from the close mentorship of faculty with wide-ranging research interests in higher education policy and the governance and administration of MSIs and HBCUs.

Program Snapshot

      ❱  72 credit hours 

      ❱  Full-time

      ❱  Hybrid format (online and in-person classes)

      ❱  Degree: Ph.D.

Application Deadlines

Spring 2024 entry: 

      ❱  No spring entry

Fall 2024 entry: 

      ❱  Dec. 2, 2023 (final deadline)

Applicants should submit their applications as early as possible for earlier consideration of departmental funding opportunities. Applicants have until the final deadline to apply. However, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the admissions cycle.

Transfer credits accepted (reviewed by program director)


Dr. Kyndra Middleton

Director of Graduate Studies

Dr. Robert T. Palmer

Department Chair

Menbere Endale

Program Coordinator

Program Details

  • Degree Classification: Graduate
  • Related Degrees: Ph.D.

Admission Requirements

Application for Admission

  • Online GradCAS application
  • Statement of purpose/ Statement of academic interest (500-1,000 words)
  • GRE scores not required
  • Official transcripts sent to GradCAS
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Master's degree in Higher Education, Student Affairs, or a related field from an accredited college or university or the international equivalent
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae (Applicants are expected to have a minimum of 3 years of professional experience working in a college/university setting, or related professional experience that would allow the applicant to understand the context and general environment of higher education)
  • Autobiographical statement (500-750 words)
  • Critical writing sample (Samples of professional writing, including publications and research proposal abstracts)
  • Interview (Qualified applicants)

GRE Required?

  • No

GRE Preferred Minimums

  • GRE Verbal Reasoning: N/A
  • GRE Quantitative Reasoning: N/A
  • GRE Analytical Writing: N/A

GPA Required Minimums

  • Postgraduate GPA: 3.3
  • Overall GPA minimum: 3.0
  • Undergrad GPA minimum: N/A

Reference Requirements

Evaluator type accepted:

  • Professor (2 Reference Letters Required)
  • Supervisor/Manager
  • Coworker
  • Clergy
  • Other

Evaluator type not accepted:

  • Friend
  • Family Member

Personal Statement Guidance 

Your statement of purpose/academic interest should highlight why you wish to pursue a career in higher education leadership and address the following:

  1. Describe your background in higher education.
  2. Describe your personal and career goals as it relates to the Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies.
  3. How will obtaining your Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies enhance you in your current position and assist you in accomplishing your outlined career goals?

Letter of Recommendation Guidance

Provide three (3) letters of recommendation from individuals who are familiar with your potential for rigorous graduate study (two of which should come from a professor who can speak to your potential for success in a Ph.D. program).