Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Higher Education

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Higher Education

Boston College offers the doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D.) 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 that 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.

Virtual Ph.D. Information Session
Wednesday, Nov. 3
12 - 1 p.m. ET


At a Glance

How many courses?

This program consists of 18 courses for a total of 54 credits.

How long will it take?

Full-time students will typically complete the program in 4–5 years.
Part-time students can take 4–6 years to complete the program.

When can I start?

Students can begin the program only in the fall semester.

Ph.D. or Ed.D.?

Consider the unique program characteristics to select the appropriate degree.

  • Research focused degree, including intensive methods coursework
  • Dissertation reflecting individual research 
  • Full-time, in-person 
  • Fully funded with doctoral assistantships and stipends
  • Program is small with a limited number of spaces per year 
  • Practice-based degree for experienced professionals 
  • Culminating capstone based in a problem of practice 
  • Part-time, online with annual, in-person summer residencies 
  • Scholarships available 
  • Cohort model of 10 to 15 students

Program Faculty & Expertise

What will I study?


  • Courses: 18
  • Credits: 54

Where do our graduates work?

Harvard University

Dean of Students

University of Houston 

Director of Assessment and Planning

University of Connecticut

Assistant Professor




Salve Regina University


Kyung Hee University

Policy Analyst

Merrimack College

Associate Professor 


Senior Director of Program Design

University of Miami

Director of Enrollment Marketing and Operations

Elms College


Mary Kinnane Award

This award is given annually to a graduating student in the Higher Education program who embodies the quality of academic excellence and service which reflects the Jesuit ideal of education in the service of others. 

Learn more about the award and see past recipients 

Financial Aid

Education should level the playing field. We feel the same way about financial aid.

The Lynch School of Education and Human Development provides more than $8.4 million in financial aid to students each year. As a result, the quality of BC’s instruction, the benefit of our alumni network, and the impact a BC degree will have on your employment options is both affordable and invaluable. 

Application Information



All applicants
December 1

Apply Now

To be eligible for the doctoral program, applicants must already hold a master's degree.

Apply Now

A non-refundable application fee of $75 is required; however, this fee is waived for select applicants.


To be uploaded to your online Application Form.

In addition to your academic history and relevant work experience, please include any licenses currently held, any social justice-related experience, any language skills other than English, and any research experience or publications.

Personal Statement

To be uploaded to your online Application Form.

In 1,000-1,500 words, describe your academic and professional goals, any experience relevant to this program, and your future plans, expectations, and aspirations.

Letters of Recommendation

Identification of recommenders/instructions to recommenders are outlined in the online Application Form.

Three letters of recommendation are required with at least one required from an academic source. Applicants with significant relevant professional experience may submit additional recommendations from supervisors.


All official undergraduate and graduate transcripts must be sent to our office before the application deadline. Please note the following:

  • Only official sealed (unopened) transcripts are acceptable. An official postsecondary transcript must be printed on official institutional paper and include at least one of the following: an institutional watermark, the registrar’s signature, or the registrar's seal.

  • Copies and unofficial transcripts sent directly from applicants are not acceptable, the transcript must come directly from the institution.

  • If you are a current student and have not completed your undergraduate and/or graduate degree, the most updated version of your transcript is acceptable.

Official electronic transcripts are accepted when sent directly to from the institution. When requesting electronic transcripts, you must manually type in to ensure it is received by our office. 

If your degree was obtained from an institution outside of the U.S. you are required to submit a course-by-course evaluation completed by a National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) approved evaluator. A complete list of NACES-approved evaluators is found on the Directory of NACES Members.

Mailed transcript(s) should be sent to the following address:

Lynch Office of Graduate Admissions, Boston College
Campion Hall 135
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Standardized Tests

The Higher Education PhD program does not require the GRE for admission. You may submit GRE scores, but applicants are not required to do so.

For more information about the GRE exam, including test dates and testing sites, visit

Lynch School of Education and Human Development GRE Code: 3218

Writing Sample

To be uploaded to your online Application Form.

All applicants to this program are required to submit one piece of work that demonstrates graduate-level writing ability. This document may be an academic term paper, a published work in which you are the primary author, a training manual or curriculum that you have created, a clinical case formulation, or another representative sample of your writing. The document should be approximately 15-25 pages.

International Students

International applicants are encouraged to apply to the Lynch School of Education and Human Development. 

Requirements for International Students

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