Program Description

Download the Ph.D. student handbook

The Ph.D. program is residential and is designed to prepare those who want to focus on specialized positions in research and policy analysis in higher education. Students interested in teaching and research develop competencies needed to contribute substantively to the academic discipline of higher education, as well as to the development of higher education as a force in economic and technological development, intellectual and cultural advancement, and international cooperation.

The Institute of Higher Education programs are informed by three distinct themes defining the core interests of its faculty:

  1. Institutional Change
  2. Science, Technology, and Economic Development
  3. Postsecondary Education Policy

These themes provide a frame for the character and organization of the Ph.D. program. The program is designed to systematically expose students to a set of courses that will provide an entry point into a specialization in any one of the three areas above.

Interested students should review our web page for detailed information on admissions and the doctoral program.

Seminars and Conferences

A valuable component of each student's doctoral program is the opportunity to participate in the Institute's in-service development activities. During the two or more years in which they are formally enrolled there will be occasional workshops, seminars, conferences, and lectures in which students are expected to participate. Although these learning opportunities carry no academic credit, they are directly related to the professional and personal development of doctoral graduates. Participation by doctoral students is therefore strongly encouraged.

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I. Required Content (18 hours)

  • EDHI 8010 — Introduction to Higher Education in the U.S.
  • EDHI 8410 — Economic Applications to Higher Education
  • EDHI 9010 — Academic Programs in Higher Education
  • EDHI 9050 — Organization & Governance in Higher Educ.
  • EDHI 9060 — Social Theory and Higher Education
  • EDHI 9500 — Policy Studies in Higher Education

II. Research Core (13 hours)

  • EDHI 8920 — Quantitative Methods in Higher Education II *
  • EDHI 8920L — Quantitative Methods in Higher Education II Lab
  • EDHI 8930 — Qualitative Methods in Higher Education
  • EDHI 8990 — Introduction to Research in Higher Education

One additional three hour methods course is required beyond the courses and one lab listed above. Here students are encouraged to develop their methodological specialty. Students may choose a course that focuses on qualitative methods, case-study methods, or advanced quantitative methods, for example. This course must be an 8000 level seminar. Eligible courses may be taught within the IHE or in an outside department. Departments offering relevant sequences include (but are not limited to): Public Administration, Political Science, Economics, Sociology, History, Statistics, and College of Education. This course must be approved in advance by the major professor.

* NOTE: Students entering the program without exposure to coursework covering principles of basic inferential statistics should enroll in EDHI 8910 and EDHI 8910L (or an equivalent) prior to taking EDHI 8920.

III. Cognate/Electives (18 hours)

This section includes 6 hours from within IHE (chosen from the courses listed below), 6 hours from outside IHE, and 6 hours from any unit.

  • EDHI 7650 — Applied Project in Higher Education
  • EDHI 8000 — History of American Higher Education
  • EDHI 8200 — Institutional Research
  • EDHI 8300 — The Law and Higher Education
  • EDHI 8400 — Finance and Higher Education
  • EDHI 8600 — Assessment in Higher Education
  • EDHI 8700 — State Systems of Higher Education
  • EDHI 8960 — Intro to US Postsecondary Educaton National DataSets
  • EDHI 9020 — Critical Issues in Higher Education
  • EDHI 9040 — Technology in the Classroom
  • EDHI 9100 — The American Professoriate
  • EDHI 9200 — Leadership in Higher Education
  • EDHI 9400 — Comparative Higher Education
  • EDHI 9500 — Policy Studies in Higher Education
  • EDHI 9630 — Critique of Literature in Higher Education
  • EDHI 9700 — Internship in Higher Education

IV. Doctoral Dissertation (12 hours combined)

First-Year Curriculum

Fall Term
  • EDHI 8010 — Introduction to Higher Education in the U.S.
  • EDHI 8990 — Introduction to Research on Higher Education
  • EDHI 9050 — Organization and Governance in Higher Education
  • EDHI 8910 — Quantitative Methods in Higher Education I (plus lab)*

*NOTE: Students entering the program without exposure to coursework covering principles of basic inferential statistics should enroll in EDHI 8910 and EDHI 8910L (or an equivalent) prior to taking EDHI 8920.

Spring Term
  • EDHI 8920 — Quantitative Methods in Higher Education II (plus lab)
  • EDHI 8930 — Qualitative Methods in Higher Education
  • EDHI course of student's choice, from required content

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Funding Opportunities

IHE encourages full-time students to apply for assistantships and fellowships to fund their doctoral studies. IHE students commonly are awarded departmental, graduate school, and professional assistantships which often include a stipend and tuition waiver. In addition, IHE students have a history of receiving internal and external fellowships, internships, scholarships, and awards to help with coursework, research, dissertation writing, and travel.

Recently, IHE students have been recipients of:

  • The Fulbright Scholarship
  • The Louise McBee Scholarship from the Georgia Association of Women in Higher Education
  • The Lumina Foundation’s ASHE Dissertation Fellowship
  • The UGA Graduate School’s Dissertation Completion Award
  • The Zell and Shirley Miller Graduate Fellowship
  • American-Scandinavian Foundation grant

Travel Funds

Limited travel funds are also available to encourage IHE students to attend national and regional conferences to present papers and participate in panel discussions. To apply for travel funds, please complete this form and submit to the graduate coordinator.

Zell and Shirley Miller Fellowship

The Zell and Shirley Miller Fellowship in the Institute of Higher Education is established to support doctoral study of significant issues in the field of higher education.

The Miller Fellowship is awarded annually to a doctoral student of high promise in the Institute of Higher Education. The Miller Fellow will be chosen by the Graduate Studies Committee of the Institute. In making its determination, the committee will take into account the scholarly potential of the candidate together with an assessment of his/her academic record and professional achievement.

Jason C. Lee is the 2016 recipient of the Zell and Shirley Miller Fellowship

Lee has served as a research assistant to Robert Toutkoushian since enrolling in the Institute’s Ph.D. program in August 2013, and has been a teaching assistant to Manuel Gonzalez Canche this year for the Quantitative Methods I and Statistical Social Network Analysis courses.  He expects to graduate in May 2017.

Lee’s research interests include college student financial literacy, higher education finance, and the tripartite factors that affect postsecondary access and persistence: financial circumstances, academic preparation, and social-cultural influences.

“Since deciding to enroll in the Institute, I've been nothing but impressed by the people who work here,” said Lee. “The staff, faculty, and students are all incredibly supportive and collegial. Knowing and talking to students from other higher education programs, I'm confident that the opportunities afforded to us through course offerings, mentorship, professional development, and peer interactions are unparalleled.”



Past Miller Fellowship recipients:
  • Kelly Rosinger & Lucia Brajkovic
  • Denisa Gandara
  • Jennifer Rippner
  • Barrett Taylor
  • Yarbrah Peeples
  • Stephanie Hazel
  • T. Austin Lacy
  • Angela Bell

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How to Apply

Criteria and Standards for Admission

Students admitted to the Institute's doctoral programs typically have already earned a master's degree. Exceptions are approved in certain circumstances.

  • Current résumé or curriculum vitae
  • The Graduate Record Examination
  • The applicant's statement of career goals and objectives (maximum of 500 words)
  • Strength of the letters of recommendation
  • Unofficial transcripts from all previously attended institutions are acceptable as part of the application review process. However, official transcripts will be required if admitted to the program.

For the Ph.D.: significant exposure to research in higher education during a master's program and/or significant work experience in an institution or agency associated with higher learning.

PhD Application and Assistantship Procedures

Applications for graduate education in the Institute of Higher Education's PhD Program are reviewed during the fall and winter each year for admission into the following fall term. Applicants are encouraged to apply by January 9 for full consideration in the fall term. After such date, applications will be considered on a space available basis. Applicants interested in an assistantship are encouraged to apply no later than December 15. Students are considered for an assistantship after being admitted to the program.

Prospective students must complete the UGA Graduate School online application. Files will not be considered for admission until all required documents are received.

Information needed for the online application:
  • Degree Objective: PhD
  • Major: Higher Education
  • Degree Objective/Major Code: 406A

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