Online Doctoral Programs in Higher Education

Higher Education Administration by Distance Learning

Online doctoral programs in higher education offer flexibility to advance your academic knowledge and skills in using the latest theory and research to support the mission of higher education institutions, such as universities, vocational colleges, community colleges, technical schools and other tertiary and post secondary institutions.

You can select your program from several higher education online degrees that are available. A PhD degree in higher education is ideal if you're interested in conducting research related to higher education topics.

When you pursue an online PhD in higher education, you get the skills needed to become a professor, policy analyst, researcher or an administrator at higher education institution.

When you earn a doctorate of education (Ed.D.) in higher education, you will be prepared to apply theory and research -- such as the kind generated by the PhD graduates -- to many aspects of higher education.

Earning an online PhD in higher education administration or management will lead to prominent administrative positions at higher education institutions, including becoming a college dean, college president and other senior-level administration positions.

During the program, you develop critical-thinking skills that enable you to become a strong and innovative leader at a higher education institution. Depending upon the specialization you choose, you may focus more on developing leadership or administrative skills. If you intend to focus on conducting research, aim to learn the skills and techniques required to become a successful researcher.

Who can benefit from online doctoral programs in higher education?

Ideal candidates for higher education distance learning graduate programs:

  • Those who already have experience working in higher education institutions, such as faculty members or administrators interested in, or already holding, a management position such as department chair, provost, dean, or vice-president.
  • Students with a masters degree in education, or equivalent, as well as standardized test scores such as the GRE or MAT. Some schools suggest at least five years of solid experience before applying to the program.
  • Education administration professionals who are looking for flexibility to expand their knowledge and skills in higher education while maintaining their respective jobs.

An added benefit of earning a higher education administration program online is the ability to connect with a diverse cohort of students from all over the world, making the degree program as much about networking with other professionals as it is about scholarly learning and independent research.

Planning an online doctoral program in higher education

  • It may take up to five years to complete an online doctoral program in higher education, or even longer if you study part-time. Some online accredited schools offer accelerated programs, which lets learners complete the degree faster.
  • As you consider earning your higher education doctorate online, it is important to plan your schedule in advance as schools will not allow students to extend their degree beyond a certain number of years.
  • If you are conducting research, choose your research topic and faculty advisor carefully as delays in research can often shift the eventual graduation date.
  • Depending on the specific online PhD in higher education degree, you may be required to attend on-campus meetings, so it’s important to consider the time commitment when choosing a program.
  • Programs such as the PhD in Higher Education involves a heavy research component, as well as coursework related to developing a solid understanding of how to conduct effective research. This includes statistics, quantitative and qualitative methods, and research methodology.
  • Student must conduct independent research, under the guidance of a faculty mentor, which culminates in a written dissertation.

Featured Colleges offering Online Doctoral Programs

Northcentral University

  • Ph.D. in Education - Higher Education Leadership
  • Education Specialist (EdS) - Leadership in Higher Education
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Leadership in Higher Education

Argosy University

  • Doctorate in Education(Ed.D) - Higher and Post-Secondary Education

Grand Canyon University

  • Doctor of Education(Ed.D) in Organizational Leadership - Higher Education Leadership

Walden University

  • PhD in Education - KAM-based - Higher Education
  • PhD in Education - Mixed-Model - Higher Education
  • Doctor of Education - Higher Education Leadership
  • Doctor of Education - College Teaching and Learning
  • Doctor of Education - Higher Education & Adult Learning


Careers options

Graduating with a doctoral program in higher education prepares graduates for a variety of research or administrative positions at universities, colleges, technical school, or community colleges. You may be involved in student affairs or services, career services, financial aid, and student counseling. These positions may be mid-career level, or more senior positions such as vice-president or director.

A PhD or Ed.D. degree in higher education or higher education administration or management provides students with excellent opportunities for advancement in higher education. After graduation from the program, faculty members and administrative professionals can see advancement to senior administrative positions, as well as provost or president of the university. Those interested in continuing their scholarly studies can find research positions at universities as well as non-profit agencies.







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