Ed.D. Community College Leadership


Our Community College Leadership Ed.D. program is designed to prepare higher education professionals to advance in a variety of administrative positions within the community college environment. This online degree emphasizes applied practice and action-based research, giving midcareer professionals the edge to move ahead. The Ed.D. in Higher Education specializing in Community College Leadership consists of 54 credit hours beyond the master's degree and is designed to be completed within three years. Students will take two courses per semester. Summer courses are blended format to foster connections with faculty and other students. Fall and spring courses are delivered online. The cumulating experience for the program is a Dissertation of Practice (12 credit hours) that takes an innovative practice-based problem approach to research.

Real-world Learning

In our program, you'll enjoy a community of practitioners and scholars actively pursuing educational research. You'll engage in learning opportunities through coursework focused on theory-to-practice and inquiry-based educational practices.

Application Process

Our Higher Education Community College Leadership program admits students for summer only. Completed applications with all supporting credentials (including letters of recommendation) are due no later than March 1.

You'll need to submit the following:

  • Application
  • Written statement of goals
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • Résumé/CV.

Note: No GRE required. Three years of higher education experience related to the community college context required.

You are highly encouraged to set up an individual meeting with our academic counselor Danae Miesbauer or to attend an information session.

Are you ready to become a leader in community colleges? Are you eager to learn how to help others improve in their professional endeavors or to prepare for new roles in our world?

Apply Today 

Acceptance of Admissions

Once you have been admitted to the program you'll need to accept admission via MyNIU as well as respond to the department by the deadline indicated in your acceptance letter.


Due to limited space in all of our programs, applicants may be placed on a waiting list. If admitted students decline and spots open up, students on the waiting list will be offered a spot in the program on a rolling basis. If you have been waitlisted and have questions about the timeline or your prospects of being accepted into the program, please contact HESA program coordinator Carrie Kortegast, Ph.D. at ckortegast@niu.edu.

Our practice-based curriculum is designed for higher education professionals seeking career advancement in various administrative positions across community colleges. Our program is ideal for all higher education professionals, working in a variety of areas across the institution, including:

  • Student affairs
  • Academic administration
  • Enrollment management
  • Operations and administration
  • Faculty and instructors

Experience a flexible learning environment. Our online classes, combined with a one-week on-site course at NIU Naperville each summer, allows you to earn your degree in three years. Each summer, you'll take two hybrid courses that require a one week face-to-face meeting.

The course will meet Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. with a one-hour break. Build relationships throughout the program and beyond. Our program provides you with opportunities to network, collaborate and learn with a small cohort of fellow practitioners. When you graduate, you will join our strong alumni network, which includes top administrators at community colleges throughout our region.

Future dates for the one-week face-to-face meeting at NIU Naperville:

  • June 12-16, 2023
  • June 11-14, 2024
  • June 9-13, 2025

Ed.D in Higher Education Specialization in Community College Leadership

Summer Term Fall Term Spring Term
Year 1
  • HESA 770: The Administration of Higher Education
  • HESA 751: Community College Students
  • HESA 772: Financing of Higher Education
  • HESA 720- Review of Research in Higher Education
  • HESA 555: Seminar in Community Colleges
  • HESA 700: Workshop -  Quantitative Foundations in Higher Education Research
Year 2
  • HESA 570: Organization, Personnel Management, and Academic Administration
  • HESA 740: Pedagogical Innovations and Student Learning
  • HESA 704: Strategic Marketing and Enrollment Management
  • HESA 798: Research Seminar in Higher Education
  • HESA 771: Legal Aspects in Higher Education Administration
  • HESA 710: Evaluating Higher Education Programs
Year 3
  • HESA 575: Public Policy Studies in Higher Education
  • HESA 721: Applied Research Design in Higher Education

HESA 799*: Dissertation of Practice

*HESA 799 is a variable credit course offered in fall and spring terms. Minimum of 12 credits required to graduate. Dissertation may take two to five terms depending on topic and data collection timeline. Students should be aware that faculty are off-contract over the summer; students are encouraged to do independent work to keep their dissertation project moving forward.

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