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Higher and Postsecondary Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Higher and Postsecondary Education

In the Department of Organization & Leadership

Degrees > Doctor of Education

Doctor of Education

The Doctor of Education Program develops breadth of understanding about higher and postsecondary education, though with focus on an intellectual issue of professional activity (concentration or emphasis area).  Breadth is assured through study within three curricular domains: academic and developmental analysis of higher and postsecondary education, organizational and institutional analysis of higher and postsecondary education, and social and comparative analysis of higher and postsecondary education.  Working across these domains and beyond them (through related out-of-program courses), students will work with faculty advisors to develop emphasis areas, among them policy studies, diversity and access studies, studies in student learning and development, and studies of scholarly learning and careers.  The Ed.D. requires in-depth study in processes/methods of inquiry appropriate to the area of concentration or emphasis, and reflecting substantial theoretical understanding  of the area and approaches to inquiry within it.

Students who pursue the Ed.D. in Higher and Postsecondary Education question and explore the range of perspectives for understanding the enterprise- its educatonal and intellectual core, its institutional/organizational rubrics, and its social and comparative contextualizations.  Thus, through their own research (situated within an emphasis area), they participate in reshaping current understandings of postsecondary education.  Ed.D. students conclude their programs by writing a dissertation that, though focused on a particular research problem within higher and postsecondary education, reflects the tripartite aims of the curriculum, as well as deep understanding of knowledge structures underpinning their area of inquiry.  They are positioned then to scrutinize prevailing views of what it means to engage in the "higher learning" and importantly, of what it means to reconstruct these views in the name of improvement and development.

Graduates of the Ed.D. program may become policy-makers and evaluation specialists in higher and postsecondary education; they may assume substantial leadership responsibilities, as through presidencies or other key administrative posts in colleges and universities or state systems; they may lead university- or college-wide instructional development centers and activities; they may become academic scholars and researchers.


The Ed.D. requires a minimum of 90 points of graduate coursework, completion of the certification exam (an exam in two parts), and the writing and successful defense of a dissertation.

Core courses required:

  • ORL 5521 Introduction to research methods in education (3) or equivalent with advisor approval
  • ORLH 4010 Purposes and policies of higher education (3)
  • ORLH 4011 Curriculum and instruction in higher education (3)
  • ORLH 4020 College and university organization and administration (3)
  • ORLH 4031 Financial administration of higher education institutions (3)
  • ORLH 5021 Patterns of organization and management in higher education (3)
  • ORLH 5044 Theories of diversity in higher education (3)
  • ORLH 5526 Advanced professional seminar: The literature of higher education  (3)
  • ORLH 5527 Advanced professional seminar: The college professoriate (3)
  • ORLH 6511 Coordinating seminar in higher education (3)
  • ORLH 6551 Advanced seminar in higher education II (3)
  • ORLH 5011 College teaching and learning (3)

In addition to ORL 5521, all Ed.D. students must  take a minimum of three additional research courses to be selected relative to student’s research preparation needs. See department core requirements. Remaining fifteen courses (45 points) are to be distributed as follows:

Six courses within the Program with advisor approval. The chosen concentration must represent a coherent area of study that broadly situates dissertation research. 

Five courses outside the Program, with at least three of these outside the department.  Chosen with advisor approval, these courses must contribute substantively, theoretically, or methodologically to the student’s selected area of study.

Five courses within or outside the program, with advisor approval.

Internships are open to doctoral students on a space-available basis but require approval of faculty advisor and program coordinator, including possible addition of course requirements.

Adjustments to requirements and distributions, as shown for the M.A., Ed.M., and Ed.D. in Higher and Postsecondary Education, require approval of the advisor and program coordinator.