Higher Education Leadership Ph.D. Concentration

doctor of philosophy

Instructor 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. 

Learn more about the PhD in Educational Leadership

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.
  • Customize your degree with an optional WMU Signature Designation.


WMU's doctor of philosophy in educational leadership is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. 

Cost & Funding

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