Higher Education Leadership Ph.D. Concentration

doctor of philosophy

Class discussion with students.

Admissions requirements

  • Masters degree from an accredited institution, indicated on an official transcript.
  • An overall grade point average of at least 3.0 for all graduate work undertaken beyond the bachelor’s degree.
  • Official transcripts as required by WMU.
  • Career and professional goals written narrative in which an applicant describes their professional goals, and how this doctoral program fits with those goals.
  • Graduate reference forms completed by the different individuals who can address an applicant’s ability to successfully complete doctoral-level work.
  • A professional curriculum vitae or resume.


  • Dr. DeAnna Burt-Nanna
    "I have had the benefit of a WMU education, an education that has provided tools, growth opportunities, and support."Dr. DeAnna Burt-Nanna, president, Monroe Community College

Program overview

Leadership knowledge and development, applicable to both instructional and administrative aspects of higher education institutions, is the focus of this program in the Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology at Western Michigan University.  Higher education faculty who have not yet obtained a terminal degree, as well as those working in student services or other administrative areas within universities, community colleges or other institutions focused on adult learning, will be well served by this program.

Of the doctoral students already admitted to this program, some are existing faculty, currently teaching in a wide range of disciplines (e.g., engineering, business, nursing, social work, criminal justice, hospitality).  Most plan to remain faculty members upon completion of their doctorate; however, some seek roles as department chairs or deans.  Other students come from student services or other administrative areas, such as student support programs, extended university programs, residence life and housing, human resources, university athletics, information technology services, university libraries, international affairs and study abroad, and other student affairs departments.

Many of these students plan to continue in or advance within administrative units in higher education, while also planning to serve as part-time faculty.  Only a few of our admitted students are not currently working within higher education institutions but are instead involved in training or other adult learning activities.  All students admitted to this concentration are expected to have a minimum of 3-5 years of post-master's leadership experience in post-secondary education settings, or a closely related sector. 

Please note that this concentration may not be suitable for individuals seeking a faculty position in specific disciplines that have their own terminal degrees; most universities hire faculty with a doctoral degree in the subject area in which they will be teaching. 

Why higher education leadership at Western Michigan University?

  • 100% of WMU educational leadership graduates were employed or continuing education within three months of graduation. 
  • Students are encouraged to pursue additional educational opportunities through one of our many excellent study abroad programs.
  • We are the only institution in the U.S. that includes an optional co-curricular designation known as the WMU Signature. Pathways include: Teaching & Student Success, Leadership, Health & Wellbeing, Diversity, Inclusion, Equity & Justice, and more! 

Application information

The admissions deadline for students hoping to start the program Fall 2023 (or summer if requested) is January 15, 2023. The admissions application process is completely online. If you wish to be considered for department funding as a graduate assistant (GA or DGA), please complete the application by the stated deadline.

The EDLD PhD Program will offer a second admissions cycle this year (for students who wish to start their doctoral program in fall 2023) with an application deadline  March 3, 2023; interviews will be held March 30 and April 3. Applicants will be notified about final decisions no later than April 11. Please note that this second admissions cycle is only for students who do NOT need funding for their first year (2023-24); all deadlines for funding will have passed, and monies already allocated. 

EDLD has permanently suspended the GRE requirement as an admission requirement. Be aware that there may be additional requirements during the admissions review to provide supplemental information about applicant's preparedness to be in a doctoral program.

Required program of study

Resources for current students

For program information visit the current educational leadership Ph.D. students page.

Cost & Funding

Helpful links

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