Influence Higher Education Policy and Practice with the PhD in Higher Education

  Online: Low Residency at Azusa (main campus)

The Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education prepares graduates for positions as faculty, researchers, and academic leaders who are able to conduct original research that contributes to higher education policy and practice, and to interpret and communicate the results of that research through their writing, teaching, and leadership.

Program Highlights

  • Cohort model designed for working professionals in higher education
  • Sequenced, lock-step curriculum enables students to complete the full degree, including dissertation, within four years at a guaranteed tuition rate
  • Two weeks at APU each January and July, with online instruction and meetings at professional conferences in between
  • Unique strengths-based approach to teaching, learning, leadership, and research
  • Experienced faculty who are professionally active scholars committed to student success
  • International travel as part of the Global Policy course exposes all students to international higher education policy and practice
  • All students join a faculty member’s research team for two years of hands-on experience doing research that makes a difference
  • Leadership skills and competencies, including emotional intelligence, are woven throughout the curriculum
  • Comprehensive exams that are practical demonstrations of program competencies in leadership, student success, and social justice/diversity
  • Social justice perspectives and faith integration are woven throughout the curriculum

Learn more about the program and our faculty.

Low-Residency Format

The PhD in Higher Education program accommodates working professionals through a low-residency format. Two-week intensive sessions are held at APU each January and July, with ongoing online instruction and additional meetings at professional conferences.

International Learning Experience

With a visit to New Zealand, second-year PhD students are offered a unique opportunity to examine higher education policies at the international level, with a special focus on social justice in postsecondary settings among indigenous student populations. Students enroll in two courses during the spring semester in preparation for a week in Auckland, New Zealand, visiting universities and sites related to indigenous knowledge. In the course on Global Policy Analysis in Higher Education, students will examine core policy principles, the culture of higher education, and critical theory. In Qualitative Research Methods, students will learn principles of observational research and interviewing skills that will be applied during the trip. This enriching experience provides students with the opportunity to deeply reflect on issues of policy and justice from a Christian perspective, as well as hone their skills of observation. All in-country costs of the trip except items of a personal nature are included in tuition. Students are responsible for their own airfare to and from Auckland.

Which One is for You: EdD or PhD?

The Department of Higher Education also offers an EdD in Higher Education for higher education professionals who work full time. Compare Higher Education’s PhD and EdD (PDF)

APU also offers an elementary and secondary education-focused Doctor of Education program through the School of Education.

School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences Accreditation

Azusa Pacific University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

University Reputation

U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges 2023 edition named Azusa Pacific to its list of top national universities and several other significant lists, including First-Year Experiences and Top Performers on Social Mobility. The Princeton Review designated APU as 1 of 126 institutions in the “Best Western Colleges” section of its 2023 Best Colleges guide. APU’s School of Nursing was named a top nursing school in California for 2023 by College Factual and Niche. APU was included as a top-100 degree producer by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education and is a designated Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). Azusa Pacific is also a Military Friendly School and Yellow Ribbon University, serving more than 500 military-connected students and families, and is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as an R2 Doctoral Research University.

Note: This information is current for the 2023-24 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.