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Higher Education Administration

Higher Education Administration Program at KU

Although there are some similarities between the Ph.D. and Ed.D. in terms of the core experiences, the major difference between the two degrees is the focus of the research expectations. The Ed.D. prepares students to apply the most current knowledge about colleges and universities and their constituencies to administrative practice. Ed.D. students may choose to focus their capstone project—the Ed.D. dissertation—on a problem relevant to improving their own or their organization's education practice. To this end, the emphasis of the research component of the Ed.D. is learning to use research skills to improve everyday practice.

The Ph.D. is a research degree and prepares students to contribute to the general and theoretical knowledge about higher education issues. The Ph.D. dissertation will be theoretically grounded and should make an original contribution to the literature.


Each doctoral candidate must fulfill a residency requirement during which time the student is engaged in full-time academic study. Residency may be fulfilled in a number of ways and students are encouraged to consult the Graduate catalog for detailed description of residency options.

Doctoral Field Experience

Guidelines for Doctoral Field Experience in Higher Education (Ed.D)

The Doctoral Field Experience enables you to apply your doctoral studies in a new environment and to focus on specific learning outcomes. Be reflective and intentional as you plan this important component of your doctoral program. Think about what you want to learn through this experience and how it will better prepare you for the future. The faculty supervisor, Dr. Marlesa Roney (roney@ku.edu) encourages you to contact her to discuss your goals and outcomes. After you have identified the outcomes you hope to accomplish, explore potential Field Experience sites (the faculty supervisor can assist you) and contact prospective Field Experience supervisors to discuss the opportunities available. After you have identified an experience that will enable you to meet your objectives, draft your Proposal, as described below. Your proposal is a three-way agreement for you, your Field Experience supervisor and the faculty supervisor. All three parties need to be in agreement before your Proposal will be approved. The next two steps may vary somewhat as the three parties reach consensus, but, in general, this is the process. Review the DRAFT of your proposal with the Field Experience supervisor and incorporate any feedback received. Email your DRAFT proposal to the faculty supervisor for review. Incorporate any feedback provided and then schedule a meeting with the faculty supervisor to discuss your plans.

Once the faculty supervisor has approved your proposal, make an appointment with the Field Experience supervisor to review your approved proposal and sign the final document. Email the signed document in PDF format to the faculty supervisor. After both the faculty supervisor and the Field Experience supervisor have approved your proposal, you are ready to complete your experience, keeping track of the 240 hours required. NOTE: DO NOT BEGIN WORKING UNTIL YOUR PROPOSAL HAS BEEN OFFICIALLY APPROVED BY THE FACULTY SUPERVISOR. Work completed prior to official approval will not be counted toward the 240 hours required.

At the conclusion of your internship write your Final Reflection Paper and email it in PDF format to the faculty supervisor. You are encouraged to keep a journal during your experience to aid in preparation of your reflection paper.     If you have any concerns during your internship experience, please contact the faculty supervisor immediately.

Proposal Outline

  • Statement of Purpose. Include past educational and work experiences that provided the impetus for your interest in this experience, unique learning opportunities available through this experience and how this Field Experience relates to your future professional aspirations and expands your current knowledge of the profession. Keep in mind that this experience should offer you learning experiences that differ significantly from your past and current work experiences.
  • Learning Outcomes. Include specific objectives, such as broadening the knowledge of theory, content and foundations of the profession, and/or developing specific skills such as interpersonal, organizational, management of others. Include specific ACPA/NASPA Competencies.
  • Site Description (office, location, etc.)
  • Responsibilities/Duties.
  • Field Experience Supervisor's Expectations to Receive a Letter Grade of A.
  • Provide your timeline for completing the 240 hours (for example, 2 hours/day/5 days a week for 16 weeks and 4 hours/day/5 days/ week for four weeks; or 8 hours/day/5 days a week for six weeks, etc.). Note: Completing the internship in one semester requires a minimum commitment of 3 hours/day/5 days a week for a 16-week semester. You may want to consider completing at least a portion of your internship during the summer. 
  • Semester you will enroll in ELPS 995. You are required to enroll in ELPS 995 for only one semester, but you may complete the Field Experience over two or more semesters.
  • Field Experience supervisor's name, title, email and telephone number.
  • Signatures (student, Field Experience supervisor)

Final Reflection Paper (approximately 8 pages)

Reflect on your experience and share what you learned. Include a self-evaluation, focusing on whether or not you met your initial objectives and describing any additional learning outcomes you achieved. Reflect on how this experience prepared you for your future professional aspirations.

Email your Reflection Paper in PDF format to the faculty supervisor. She will review your paper and contact your Field Experience supervisor for feedback on your performance before submitting your final grade. Updated January 2016

Comprehensive Examinations

All students are required to take a comprehensive examination, which consists of a written and oral portion. The comprehensive is normally taken after successful completion of most of the appropriate coursework, the research competencies, and minor, if applicable. Both the oral and written portions of the exam must be successfully completed before the student is allowed to begin work on the dissertation.


In contrast to the academic coursework which is designed to develop the knowledge base necessary for effective administration, the dissertation's purpose is to study one higher education problem in depth. A formal dissertation proposal will be prepared by each student and approved by a dissertation committee of at least three graduate faculty prior to the beginning of the dissertation research. Under the guidance of the dissertation committee, the student is expected to generate or clarify knowledge in a specialized field and contribute to resolving important problems or questions within the field of educational leadership. The field of inquiry and method of analysis are limited only by the availability of faculty to sponsor the project. A final oral examination on the dissertation is scheduled when the dissertation has been tentatively accepted by the committee.

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