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Lynch School of Education

Doctoral Program

higher education

Contact: Gracie Trotman, Campion 205, 617.552.4185, email

At the doctoral level, Boston College offers the doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Higher Education. The doctoral program is designed to prepare experienced practitioners for senior administrative and policy-making posts, and careers in teaching/research in the field of higher education. The program has several specific programmatic foci that permit students to specialize in an area of interest. Among these are:

  • Administration and policy analysis in higher education
  • Student development and student affairs
  • International and comparative higher education
  • Historical and philosophical foundations of higher education
  • Finance and economics of higher education
  • Organizational culture and change
  • The academic profession

In addition, students may choose other topics which are relevant to the administration of post-secondary education and to research. A special feature is the Center for International Higher Education, linking the Lynch School higher education program with Jesuit colleges and universities worldwide. This initiative, as well as other international efforts, provides a significant global focus to the higher education program.

In line with accreditation standards and with our program mission, the following are the expected student learning outcomes upon completion of the program.

Students must demonstrate:

  • Knowledge of the important issues facing higher education from a multi-disciplinary perspective (history, sociology, philosophy, psychology, economic and political science)
  • Knowledge of theoretical and empirical knowledge in the field
  • Knowledge of managerial and policy-making issues in the field
  • Knowledge of research methodologies and research ethics and applications

A student in the doctoral program must complete a combination of required and elective coursework totaling a minimum of 54 credit hours (usually 18 courses), pass the Comprehensive Examinations, successfully complete the Qualifying Paper, and fulfill all the requirements for the dissertation including successfully defending it in order to receive the Ph.D. degree. The fifty-four credit hours of coursework include six hours of dissertation direction. Forty-eight of these credit hours must be for courses above the 400 level. (NOTE: For detailed information on degree requirements and university regulations, consult the Boston College Graduate Catalog and the Lynch School of Education's Doctoral Policies and Procedures.)

To be eligible for the doctoral program, applicants must already hold a master's degree. The doctoral program requires 54 credit hours of coursework, 48 of which must be beyond the 400 level. At least six hours of dissertation direction is needed. The Ph.D. program is organized into several tiers of study:

  • a Core of foundational studies in higher education
  • methodological courses
  • specialized elective courses in higher education and related fields, including research seminars
  • optional internship experience
  • research

In the context of a rigorous selection of courses, students are encouraged to pursue their own specific interests in higher education.

Professor and students