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Program Overview

To apply for this program, please visit Graduate Admissions.

What will I learn?

In Texas, and across the United States, a substantial gap exists in the number of college graduates needed to meet current and future workforce demands in higher education. With support from the other PhD programs in the University of Houston College of Education, the HELPS Ph.D. program is well-positioned to address this gap by: recruiting and preparing a critical mass of well-trained higher education professionals who represent the state’s diverse demographics; and, comprehensively and constructively addressing through relevant research the growing disparities in underrepresented student recruitment, access, completion, and success.

Specifically, the following educational objectives guide the program. Students completing the PhD will be able to competently:

  • Provide strong evidence-based solutions to important scholarly and policy challenges
  • Contribute substantially to multi-disciplinary efforts to increase student access and success
  • Serve as a change agent in the education sector

These types of learning opportunities are facilitated by a group of scholars and scholar practitioners who bring an important and multidisciplinary set of experiences to bear in the form of widely-recognized research and critical service in substantive leadership roles (e.g., experience as a university chancellor, provost, or president). Additionally, HELPS Ph.D. students will have an opportunity to select among four subspecialty foci that will prepare students to enter into positions where a strong national need is present, in particular: 1) research and measurement; 2) educational policy; 3) advocacy and social justice; or, 4) international expertise.

For full-time students, the HELPS Ph.D. program is designed to be completed in less than three (3) academic years. For part-time students, the HELPS Ph.D. program is designed to be completed in less than four (4) academic years. See Course Sequences for more details.

What can I do with my degree?

Workforce demand for scholars with a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership & Policy Studies includes both traditional tenure-track positions within a college or university setting as well as other research positions both within and outside the academy (e.g., at state higher education coordinating boards, policy centers, etc.). With respect to faculty openings, there is a national trend toward increasing numbers of retirements that will allow new talent into the ranks and require preparation of new faculty to replace the plethora of retiring faculty. Moreover, there is a strong and growing demand for highly-trained scholar practitioners in postsecondary education. Numerous reports have described the urgency of the impending ‘leadership crisis’ in higher education, noting the insufficient number of qualified candidates prepared to step into executive leadership roles that will be vacated by large numbers of retirements in the near future.

Importantly, research indicates that Ph.D. training in higher education is of significant value for executive leaders at both community colleges and four-year institutions. As such, the HELPS Ph.D. program focuses on preparation for careers in a variety of settings, including:

  • Academia, as university faculty members;
  • Administrative leaders at universities and community colleges;
  • Research settings and organizations;
  • Program development and evaluation organizations; and
  • Policy and advocacy settings.

In sum, current labor market data and future employment projections at the national and state level suggest an active job market for graduates with a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Houston.

For more details, please contact Dr. Dave Louis at, if you have any questions.

To apply for this program, please visit Graduate Admissions.