|Introduction To Inquiry (EDUC 739)||3 credits|
|Research in Higher Education – 4 semesters||12 credits|
|Research Courses||12 credits|
|Specialization Courses||15 credits|
During the first year of the doctoral program, you’ll work with an advisor to develop a program of study, creating a set of goals and planning courses and experiences to meet these.
You’ll take some of your courses with your fellow doctoral student class, in a supportive cohort. The first of these serves as an introduction to academic inquiry and doctoral-level research. You’ll also work together in a four-semester sequence of applied research courses, completing projects as mentees and then as mentors, as well as an individual research project.
Required First Year Courses
Introduction to Inquiry (EDUC 739)
In this seminar course, you and your fellow students will engage in sustained discussion about and reflection on the assumptions, theories, and practice of inquiry relevant for policy and leadership studies. You’ll be introduced to selected genres of inquiry in order to become intelligently conversant with a variety of approaches to research. This also gives you the opportunity to examine research conducted through differing methods in the four concentrations within the department: educational leadership; higher education; international education; and research, educational measurement, and psychometrics (REMP).
Research in Higher Education (EDUC 717)
This course is an applied research course, which you will take in each of the first four semesters. You and your fellow students will become part of a research team on a Center for Student Success Research project. In the first year, you will learn the basics of research design and methods in a team, and will contribute to the literature review, data collection, and/or data analysis. In your second year, you will serve as mentors to the first year students in the group, and will have more responsibility for project management, data collection, data analysis, and completion of a research paper for presentation and/or publication.
First Year Portfolio
At the end of the first year, you’ll assemble a portfolio of your writing from first-year courses—the original papers with instructors’ comments from each. You will then meet with your advisor and another faculty member to discuss your work and your future direction in the program.
As a higher ed doctoral student, you’ll take at least four research methods courses, with at least two quantitative and at least one qualitative. Possible research courses include:
|EDUC 6193||Qualitative Research Methods||3|
|EDUC 794D||Seminar in Discourse Analysis||3|
|EDUC 797A||Qualitative Data Analysis||3|
|EDUC 819||Alternative Research Methods in International Education||3|
|EDUC 555||Introduction to Statistics I||3|
|EDUC 656||Introduction to Statistics II||3|
|EDUC 650||Regression Analysis||3|
|EDUC 671||Survey Research Methods||3|
|EDUC 676||Secondary Data Analysis||3|
|EDUC 731||Structural Equation Modeling||3|
|EDUC 790E||Social Networking Analysis for Ed Leadership||3|
You will fill out the remainder of your program of study with higher education specialization courses that provide context and expertise in the area you will further pursue in your dissertation. Sample Specialization Courses:
|EDUC 601||College Student Development Theory||3|
|EDUC 615T||Impact of College on Students||3|
|EDUC 674||Leading in Higher Education||3|
|EDUC 621||Managing in Higher Education||3|
|EDUC 723||Organizing Higher Education||3|
|EDUC 691A||Assessment Practices in Higher Education||3|
|EDUC 642||Principles and Practices of Student Affairs||3|
|EDUC 621A||Higher Education Finance||3|
|EDUC 621B||Race, Class, and Gender in Higher Education||3|
|EDUC 683||Women in Higher Education||3|
|EDUC 689||The Academic Profession||3|
|EDUC 634||Strategies for Institutional Change||3|
The comprehensive examination gives you the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the knowledge, skills and expertise necessary for conducting dissertation research in this multidisciplinary applied field. You will be required to demonstrate your knowledge of the research process as well as key issues and concepts in at least two specific areas of study within higher education (history; leadership, management, and organization; law and ethics; student learning and development; academic affairs; social justice, oppression, and diversity; assessment, evaluation, and research methods; and policy, politics, and economics).
The examination consists of two components: an applied research paper and two applied analysis papers in which you respond to questions you prepare with your committee.
Whereas the comprehensive exam allows you to demonstrate a breadth of knowledge about higher education, the dissertation is your opportunity to demonstrate depth of knowledge in one particular area of higher education. The dissertation is a highly individualized endeavor representing the area in which you will become an expert and generate new knowledge for the field. In close coordination with your dissertation adviser, you will design, execute, and report on a major research study. You will also form a three-person faculty committee to advise and validate this scholarly work. The process begins with your dissertation proposal, which your committee must approve. You’ll then conduct research, write the dissertation, and defend it before the committee.
For more details on the doctoral program course of study, consult the Higher Education Program Handbook.
The admissions process for the doctoral program is as much of a discernment process for applicants as it is a chance for the faculty to evaluate your readiness for doctoral work. We encourage applicants to ask themselves “why now?” “why UMass?” and “what will I contribute?” Embarking on a doctoral program means shifting from being a consumer of knowledge to being a producer of knowledge. Before you apply, you should be able to articulate your broad research agenda, even if you haven’t identified specific questions you want to pursue. In the admissions process, you will communicate your vision of how you will not only add to the scholarship, but how you will change the landscape and how you will challenge and re-envision the norms and assumptions of higher education.
The higher education faculty reviews all of the application materials and selects a pool of finalists. A key part of this process is ensuring that there is an alignment between an applicant's stated interests and a potential advisor's expertise. Please note that not all faculty plan to admit student in every admission cycle. More information about advisor research interests can be found on the faculty profile page. Once finalists are identified, they are then invited to an interview with two admissions committee members, either on campus or via Skype, where they discuss their interest in UMass and in higher education, their research interests, and what they can contribute to the program. They are also paired with a current student to learn their perspective on the program and the field.
In addition to the interview, applicants are asked to complete a higher education journal article critique. The faculty send a peer-reviewed article and the applicant writes a critique of the theories, research methods, and conclusions. This is an opportunity to showcase their critical thinking, writing, creativity, and knowledge of the field. The faculty on the admissions committee will do a blind review of the critique and factor these into their final evaluations. They notify applicants of admissions decisions in late February or early March.
The faculty makes admissions decisions prior to and independent from decisions about assistantships. Paid assistantships include full tuition credit, excellent health benefits, and pay of roughly $30/hour, 10-30 hours/week.
The deadline for submission of all required application materials is January 1. Priority Deadline: December 1. We will continue to review applications until the final College of Education application deadline (January 2). However, we encourage applicants to apply by the December 1 deadline in order to obtain first priority for full consideration into the Higher Education concentration.
Admission to the program is highly selective.
We strongly recommend that you have experience working in the field of higher education.
A master’s degree is required for admission, but this master’s need not be in higher education.
- Online Graduate Admissions Application
- A minimum of two letters of recommendation
- Official transcript(s) from all colleges/universities you’ve attended, undergraduate and graduate, where you completed 6 or more credits
- A personal statement that tells us why you are interested in pursuing a doctorate in higher education, and why this is the right program for you
- Application fee
- The GRE is not required