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Higher Education Leadership

Credits Needed to Graduate
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Years to Complete Your Ph.D.
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Degree Overview Open Accordion

Hear Dr. Susana Muñoz explain how this online Ph.D. program helps students better understand and discuss challenges like equity and justice in the higher education landscape, and also become more comfortable with their own voices as transformational leaders.

Online Ph.D. in higher education from CSU

Develop the competencies you need to successfully and ethically lead higher education institutions with a Ph.D. in higher education leadership. Send a clear message to your current employer that you are committed to the mission of your institution, and gain skills that can be applied immediately to the challenges you face as a professional through a program that:

  • Instills and reinforces a commitment to crucial engagement of diversity and equity by addressing issues of privilege and oppression.
  • Develops research knowledge and skills that enable students to become scholar-practitioners and expand their knowledge about higher education organizations, practice, and outcomes.
  • Cultivates the key competencies needed to be a successful and ethical higher education leader and change agent.

Prepare to advance as an administrative leader

With a specific focus on universities and colleges, this program provides the practical knowledge needed to advance your administrative career in higher education. Your studies will prepare you to take on leadership roles in:

  • Enrollment management
  • Student services
  • Higher education administration
  • Academic support leadership
  • Housing and auxiliary services

Join a program that fosters success

CSU’s Ph.D. in educational leadership sets itself apart with a 95% retention rate of its students, much higher than the national average of 50%. Here are a few reasons why:

  • The program’s online format allows you to obtain a doctorate while remaining employed full time.
  • With a cohort structure, the same group of students begins, proceeds through, and completes the program together. This fosters support and allows you to network with others across the country who hold similar positions in higher education institutions.
  • Faculty members provide frequent and meaningful opportunities for one-on-one interactions through video conferencing, online discussions, email, and text.

John Carmichael, a graduate of the program, had this to say:

“You hear stories of people who get lost in Ph.D. programs and a decade goes by and they’re still working on their dissertation or taking another course. That has not been at all the experience for me, or I think any of the other people in this program.”

Gain real-world insight from scholar-practitioners

Learn from active scholars who incorporate their experience as administrators and teachers into coursework. The faculty in this online Ph.D. in higher education are skilled educators with industry expertise and extensive careers in higher education, including former vice presidents and college presidents.

CHHS research podcast

Find out how CSU’s research is making an impact by tuning into the CHHS Health and Human Science Matters Podcast, a collection of lively, engaging conversations with members of the college community.

Requirements and Curriculum Open Accordion


  • A minimum of 30 credits of higher education administrative curriculum
  • A minimum of 30 credits of research
  • Comprehensive exams, both written and oral
  • Juried publication submission or presentation
  • Dissertation


With an emphasis on applied knowledge and a specific focus on universities and colleges, you learn from renowned faculty and experienced higher education administration professionals.


  • Provides a comprehensive doctoral curriculum that develops the competencies needed to successfully and ethically lead higher education institutions
  • Develops research knowledge and skills to enable practitioners and administrators to become scholars/practitioners who expand the knowledge base related to higher education organizations, practice, and outcomes
  • Instills and/or reinforces a commitment to the crucial engagement of diversity
  • Explores ways to strengthen a commitment to access, learning, institutional mission, quality, and educational outcomes

Year One

Year Two

Additional research course, if required:
EDRM 606 – Principles: Quantitative Data Analysis (3 cr.).

Year Three

Year Four

You may work on your dissertation in the Fall and Spring as required. Work can continue in Summer and Fall if you are not finished.

Faculty Open Accordion
Susana Muñoz

Susana Muñoz

Currently program co-chair for the Higher Education Leadership Ph.D. program at Colorado State University, Dr. Susana Muñoz is an assistant professor of higher education in the School of Education at CSU. Before accepting a faculty role at CSU, Dr. Muñoz served as a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the administrative leadership department. Her scholarly interests center on the experiences of underserved populations in higher education. Specifically, she focuses her research on issues of access, equity, and college persistence for undocumented Latina/o students, while employing perspectives such as Latino critical race theory, Chicana feminist epistemology, and college persistence theory to identify and deconstruct issues of power and inequities as experienced by these populations.

Sharon Anderson

Sharon Anderson

Currently a professor in CSU's School of Education, Dr. Sharon Anderson previously served as director of graduate programs from 2006-2009. She holds a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Denver, and has been a licensed psychologist in the state of Colorado since 1995. Dr. Anderson has been with Colorado State University since 1994 where her research interests include counseling, career development, counseling for justice, and higher education leadership.

Ryan P. Barone

Ryan P. Barone


Ryan P. Barone, Ph.D., is the Assistant Vice President for Student Success at Colorado State University reporting dually to Academic and Student Affairs, where he is also an affiliated faculty member in the Student Affairs in Higher Education and Higher Education Leadership graduate programs. Dr. Barone received his B.S. from SUNY Fredonia, his M.S. from Colorado State University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Denver in Higher Education with a specialization in Diversity and Higher Learning. He has published or co-published book chapters, peer-reviewed journal articles, and presented sessions and delivered keynote addresses at regional and national conferences on topics related to social justice, equity in community colleges, interpersonal violence prevention, and closing achievement gaps.

Vincent Basile

Vincent Basile

Dr. Vincent Basile is an associate professor in CSU’s School of Education. A recipient of the four-year Miramontes Fellowship, Dr. Basile completed his Ph.D. in science and mathematics curriculum and instruction, with a graduate certificate in ethnic studies, at the University of Colorado. At CU, Dr. Basile oversaw science and mathematics pre-service teachers, and was a founding member of CU’s Graduate Students of Color Collective. Additionally, he designed and taught the science education methods courses for DU’s Denver Teacher Residency Program. In his research, Dr. Basile has critically examined federal STEM education policy briefs spanning two decades, revealing cyclical patterns of racial commodification, racial essentialism, and differential racialization. He has written about the theoretical arguments for increasing the number of STEM teachers of color in K-12 learning environments. Prior to his doctoral work, Dr. Basile taught for eight years in low-income middle and high schools in the north Denver area.

Kari Dockendorff

Kari Dockendorff


Dr. Kari Dockendorff earned their Ph.D. in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Utah, where they also completed a Graduate Certificate in Gender Studies. Kari’s research focuses on trans* students in higher education by specifically studying interactions with staff and the institutional environment which all students must navigate. Their research is also concerned with how gender and sexuality are measured and exploring new strategies for disrupting binary measures of gender.

Susan C. Faircloth

Susan C. Faircloth


Dr. Susan C. Faircloth (an enrolled member of the Coharie Tribe of North Carolina) is a professor and Director of the School of Education at CSU. She serves as a senior associate editor of the American Journal of Education, a member of the editorial board of the Journal of American Indian Education, and Chair of the technical review panel for the National Indian Education Study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, the Office of Indian Education, and the Educational Testing Service. Additionally, she serves on the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Minority Fellowship Selection Committee. Faircloth is a former Fulbright Senior Scholar to New Zealand, Ford Foundation Postdoctoral scholar with the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at the University of California Los Angeles, research Fellow with the American Indian/Alaska Native Head Start Research Center at the University of Colorado Denver, and a recent William C. Friday Fellow for Human Relations.

Gene Gloeckner

Gene Gloeckner

Dr. Gene Gloeckner has been a professor of teacher education and research design at CSU since 1988. He currently serves as chair of research methods within the School of Education. Dr. Gloeckner earned his Ph.D. in 1983 from Ohio State University, his M.S. in 1977 from Colorado State University, and his B.S. in 1974 from Ohio State as well. His research interests include quantitative research methods, distance teaching and learning, and homelessness substance abuse.

Alex C. Lange

Alex C. Lange


Dr. Alex C. Lange is an assistant professor of higher education in the School of Education at CSU. Dr. Lange aims to help higher education professionals and researchers live up to their institutions' missions of quality, inclusiveness, and transformation for all members of campus communities. They study students minoritized by race, gender, sexuality, and ability, as well as the social forces that marginalize them during college. Their largest, ongoing project is a national, longitudinal study of transgender college students' journeys through undergraduate education. This work examines how transgender students enter into, develop within, and exit from higher education. Some of Dr. Lange's recent projects and collaborations include how LGBTQ+ students thrive in college, considerations for critical approaches to college student development, and the in/visibility of race and racism in LGBTQ higher education scholarship.

Louise Jennings

Louise Jennings

Louise Jennings is a professor and Co-Coordinator in the Education, Equity and Transformation Doctoral Program. She is also an Affiliate Faculty member of the Women and Gender Studies, and Co-Director of the RISE (Race and Intersectional Studies in Educational Equity) Center, which brings together researchers, practitioners, community members, and other educational stakeholders interested in advancing community-engaged research to transform practices, pedagogies, policies, and leadership for intersectional racial justice and equity in PK-12 and postsecondary educational institutions.

Jen Johnson

Jen Johnson

Dr. Jennifer Johnson is currently the program Co-Chair for the Student Affairs in Higher Education Program (SAHE) and works as the Assistant Director for the Office for Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement Office (SLiCE) where she oversees community engagement and service-learning programs as well as campus food insecurity initiatives. She holds her undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota in Genetics and Cell Biology, her Master's degree from Colorado State University in Student Affairs in Higher Education, and her Ph.D. in Education and Human Resource Studies from Colorado State University.

Kathy Sisneros

Kathy Sisneros


Dr. Sisneros currently serves as the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, teaches and advises in the Student Affairs in Higher Education (SAHE) Master's Program, and serves as an advisor for doctoral students in the Higher Education and Leadership program in the School of Education. In 2010, she earned her Ed.D. Educational Policy, Research, and Administration at UMass Amherst, her M.S. in 1994 from Northern Arizona, and her B.S. in 1992 from Eastern New Mexico University. Her professional career in student affairs has been dedicated specifically to diversity and social justice, and seeking ways to create equity within the university setting.

Learning Experience Open Accordion

The higher education leadership Ph.D. is a distance-delivered program with some unique characteristics. Much of your student work is accomplished online during two weekly sessions of 2.5 hours total using video conferencing. These interactions, plus face-to-face meetings on the CSU campus, help create a cohesive cohort of students.

On-campus meeting dates are as follows:

2022 July 10-15

The student-student relationship adds a personal dimension to the small group activities that are an integral part of the program. The student-faculty relationship is enhanced by the small cohort size (10-12 students), the fact that faculty are experienced educators, and the predominate use of papers rather than exams for learning and grading.

The program is very selective and looks for a diverse group of students. Applicants must have experience working in higher education, but that experience can come from a college or university anywhere in the country — or even the world. If you have worked as a student services administrator, or if you are interested in moving toward higher administration in any area of a college or university, this may be the program for you.

Career Opportunities Open Accordion

The higher education leadership program equips student affairs administrators and other administrative personnel employed full time at four-year colleges and research universities to advance their careers in administrative leadership positions. You will become a more accomplished leader with the practical knowledge to lead with a commitment to diversity, access, institutional mission, quality, and educational outcomes.

Graduates of this program are prepared to pursue high-level leadership positions in these areas of higher education:

  • Student Services
  • Higher Education Administration
  • Enrollment Management
  • Housing and Auxiliary Services
  • Academic Support Leadership
Hear from Our Students Open Accordion

What do students have to say about our higher education leadership program? Get a glimpse of their experiences, hear what they think about CSU's faculty and curriculum, and discover how online education is impacting people just like you.

Judy Ortiz

See how CSU's faculty, her fellow students, her family, and the flexibility of an online program all helped Judy pull through and complete her Ph.D. while battling breast cancer.

CSU's Online Students

Hear from students and faculty to get a sense of what it’s like to study online with CSU, and how a graduate degree can enhance your life.

Why Choose CSU? Open Accordion

As a student in CSU’s distance Ph.D. in higher education leadership, you will receive a doctoral degree from a regionally accredited, renowned research institution while taking courses at times and locations that fit your busy life. Additionally, you can expect:

  • A Leading Program in Distance Delivery: The success of our Ph.D. distance delivery method, designed for mid-level higher education professionals wishing to maintain full-time employment, can be seen in our 95% retention rate, compared to the 50% national average.
  • Instruction from Expert Faculty: Learn from active scholars who incorporate their experience as administrators and teachers into coursework. Our faculty are skilled educators with industry expertise and extensive careers in higher education, including former vice presidents and college presidents. Gain practical day-to-day knowledge of what it takes to lead higher education institutions successfully and ethically.
  • A Cohort Model: The same group of students goes through the program together, offering a cohesive support structure and built-in professional network.
  • A Quality Learning Experience: Due to the highly competitive nature of this program, we only accept a small percentage of students each semester. To achieve our goal of ensuring a superior learning experience with a diverse group of students, we limit cohort size to 10-12 students.
  • Individualized Faculty-Student Engagement: In addition to the in-person class sessions, our program provides opportunities for frequent and meaningful one-on-one interactions with faculty through a variety of mediums, including: video conferencing, online discussions, email, text, and more.
  • A Focus on Universities and Colleges: Advance your career in a higher education administrative leadership position through our university- and college-focused curriculum. Our program prepares leaders in areas such as enrollment management, student services, higher education administration, academic support leadership, housing and auxiliary services, and more.

Learn more about CSU's rankings and accolades.

How to Apply Open Accordion

Application Deadlines

Students may be admitted for the summer semester. Fall and spring admission is not available.

Summer semester December 1

Start your application online and upload materials directly into the online system. You can save your progress and return any time.

Apply Now

1Review Admission Requirements

The higher education leadership (Ph.D.) degree requires applicants to have the following:

  • Master's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution or a CSU-recognized international institution is required
  • A minimum of two years of professional work experience related to higher education, prior to applying to the program is required for admission
  • A minimum 3.00 GPA from master's level coursework is required
  • GRE scores are not required

Meeting the minimum requirements does not ensure admission. Admission will be primarily guided by the evaluation of each applicant's fit with the program mission and within the context of developing each incoming cohort's teaching and learning community, based on application materials (i.e., personal statement, professional experiences, recommendation letters, academic transcripts, and interviews with finalists.)

2 Prepare Application Materials

Prepare the materials below and upload when you apply online.

  • Statement of purpose

    Compose a 2-3 page Statement of Purpose regarding your personal and professional interests and goals in higher education. How will this Ph.D. program advance your professional and personal goals? How have your experiences influenced your views of equity and justice in higher education, which are two central values to the CSU College of Health and Human Sciences? Your essay may address the following:

    • What factors or experiences have led you to seek a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership from Colorado State University?
    • Describe your background and significant personal and professional experiences related to higher education leadership.
    • How do you see this program furthering your professional aspirations?
    • Applicants should demonstrate research interests that are compatible with the CSU School of Education faculty. Explain your research interests and how your interests may be compatible with our current School of Education faculty and its connection to equity and justice within higher education.
    • The values statement within the College of Health and Human Science states, "We are committed to principles of equity and inclusive excellence in all that we do." In what ways do you exemplify this statement in your past and/or current professional and/or personal work?
  • Resume or vita
    • Record of collegiate work, including names of institutions, periods of attendance, and degrees earned.
    • Record of all professional employment including dates of service (including military).
    • List of publications, exhibitions, awards, or other recognitions.
    • List of service activities, including professional, community, and charitable activities.
  • Three letters of recommendation
    Three professional recommendations are required. Recommenders should be able to speak to your current leadership ability and your ability to complete doctoral work, research and writing, and potential as a research scholar and/or scholar-practitioner. You will provide information about your recommenders in the online application. CSU will contact them with instructions and a link to a secure form they will submit on your behalf.

3 Complete Online Application

Complete the online graduate application and pay the nonrefundable application processing fee (payable online). As soon as you have completed the required information, please submit your application. Your application will not be reviewed until it is complete and all required materials have been received.

  • Select "Education and Human Resource Studies / Higher Education Leadership (Ph.D). - Distance" when choosing the program of study.

4 Request Transcripts

Request one official transcript of all collegiate work completed from all institutions attended. Transcripts from Colorado State University are not required. Transcripts must be received directly from the originating institution to be considered official.

Electronic (preferred):
Digital Transcripts must be submitted by the originating institution using a secure service such as parchment, eScrip-Safe, the National Student Clearinghouse, or e-Quals. Transcripts received via emails are considered unofficial.

Use institution code 4075 for Colorado State University or if the secure service requires an email address.

Mail (if necessary)
Graduate Admissions
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

5 Interviews and Writing Sample


  • The admission committee may request an interview. Interviews are by invitation only and will be conducted using video conference technology.
  • Faculty will select applicants to advance to the interview state around mid-January.

Writing Sample

  • If invited to interview, applicants will be required to submit a research or scholarly paper. They will have two weeks to write and electronically submit the paper. This requirement is intended to provide the faculty with critical information on the applicants' ability to frame, research/engage in inquiry, analyze, and offer a persuasive and cohesive written account on a current higher education issue of each applicant's choosing.

Check Your Application Status

View your application status at any time to ensure your application checklist is complete or to check on updates.

Selection Timeline
Application review begins after the December 1 deadline. Admit decisions will be made by mid-May. Summer courses will begin in mid-July.

Information for International Students

Official transcript translation

Ensure official copies include a certified translation into English (only one set of transcripts is required).

Official test scores

Colorado State University requires that proficiency in English language be demonstrated either by the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE academic tests prior to admission. Please submit one of the official scores from the list below. Tests must be taken within two years prior to admission and submitted directly from the Educational Testing Service (select institution code: 4075).

  • The minimum TOEFL score for admission without condition is 550 (paper-based), or 80 (internet-based).
  • The minimum IELTS score for admission without condition is 6.5.
  • The minimum PTE Academic score for admission without condition is 58.

All applicants who are citizens of countries in which English is not the official language, and who do not have an undergraduate degree from the U.S. must submit TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores.


We love learning about your goals and answering any questions to help you on your journey.

Alex Broz
Higher Education Leadership
Student Success Coach
Schedule Time to Talk

Program Details

Online and on campus
$945 per credit
Degree Awarded
Doctor of Philosophy in Education and Human Resource Studies; transcript reflects the higher education leadership specialization
Time Frame
Can be completed in 5 years

Application Deadlines

Summer semester
December 1

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