Ed.D. in Higher Education


Our Executive Weekend Ed.D. in Higher Education, specializing in higher education administration, is a three-year, 54-credit-hour cohort program designed to prepare you to step into leadership roles at any type of postsecondary institution. Developed for the working professional, our program blends the professional wisdom and career experience you bring into the classroom with analytical, theoretical and foundational knowledge needed to address the contemporary issues facing higher education educators, administrators and institutions. Classes use a hybrid format, balancing the convenience of online instruction with the community development and networking of in-person sessions hosted on Saturdays. Equity and inclusion are foundational elements in the program and are infused across the curriculum.


How To Apply

To apply for the program, you’ll need to submit the following:

  • Completed application
  • Written statement of goals
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • Current résumé/CV
  • No GRE required

Please note: Three years of full-time higher education experience is required. Select Ed.D. in Higher Education and the specialization, Higher Education Administration, in the graduate school application. Admission interviews may be requested with virtual and in-person options. Completed applications with all supporting materials, including letters of recommendation, are due March 1.

Acceptance of Admissions

Students who have been admitted to the program need to accept their admission via their 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 academic counselor Danae Miesbauer at dmiesbauer@niu.edu.

Apply Today!

Our Ed.D. Executive Weekend cohort provides a sequenced curriculum with coursework related to access to higher education, higher education law and finances, administration, and research to prepare both generalists and specialists in the field. Doctoral students in higher education prepare for leadership roles in a variety of higher education contexts including student affairs, academic affairs and other areas of higher education administration. Students have the opportunity to tailor their experience by choosing among electives related to educational policy, student development theory, and college teaching.

Designed for working professionals, our Ed.D. program is developed around the Carnegie Project on the Educational Doctorate (CPED) framework. This framework is used to design a practitioner preparation program customized for working professionals. Each class sequence is centered around inquiry of practice - where significant, strategic questions are used to analyze and address complex problems of practice. The innovation solutions brought about are rooted in research, the insights you've gained in the classroom and your own professional experience. In this model, you'll work in spaces where theory and practice inform and enrich each other, and where persistent problems within higher education are analyzed and addressed.

The use of a cohort model allows students to not only learn with and from practitioners, but also to build a strong professional network. As you complete your degree, you will become part of an alumni network made up of dedicated leaders across higher education.

Get more information. We encourage you to attend one of our information sessions (advertised on our website) or to set up a meeting with our academic counselor to learn more about our program.

Our supportive faculty bring diverse experiences, backgrounds, scholarship and expertise from a variety of areas across higher education and student affairs.

Ed.D Program: 54 Credits Post Masters

Fall Term Spring Term Summer Term
Year 1
  • HESA 702: Philosophy of Postsecondary Education
  • HESA 703: Postsecondary Access in Higher Education 
  • HESA 720: Review of Research in Higher Education (intro to ed research)
  • Elective: choose among courses focused on college teaching; student learning, development, and success; or public policy
  • HESA 770: Administration of Higher Education
  • HESA 771: Legal Aspects in Higher Education
Year 2
  • HESA 757: Seminar in Higher Education Outcomes (Intro to Quant)
  • HESA 772: Financing of Higher Education
  • HESA 700: Seminar in Higher Ed and Student Affairs (Intro to Qual)
  • Elective: choose among courses focused on college teaching; student learning, development, and success; or public policy
  • HESA 504: Educating for Equity and Social Justice in Higher Education
  • HESA 710: Evaluating Higher Education Programs
Year 3
  • HESA 721: Applied Research Design in Higher Education
  • HESA 798: Research Seminar in Higher Education
  • HESA 799: Dissertation

Note: HESA 799 is a variable credit course offered in fall and spring terms. Minimum of 12 credits required to graduate. Dissertation of practice may take two to five terms depending on topic and data collection timeline.

The Ed.D. weekend cohort is a hybrid program where students take two eight-week courses during fall and spring terms with two Saturdays required per eight-week course (four Saturday classes per term). Summer classes will be six weeks and in a weekend or online format. Dissertations of practice are the culminating research project for this program.

2023-24 Academic Weekend Cohort Dates

Fall Semester 2023

  • Saturday, Sept. 9
  • Saturday, Oct. 7
  • Saturday, Nov. 4
  • Saturday, Dec. 2

Spring Semester 2024

  • Saturday, Jan. 27
  • Saturday, Feb. 24
  • Saturday, March 30
  • Saturday, April 27

Summer Term 2024

  • Saturday, June 1
  • Saturday, June 22
  • Wednesday, July 10 (online synchronistic meeting)
  • Wednesday, July 24 (online synchronistic meeting)

2024-25 Academic Weekend Cohort Dates

Fall Semester 2024

  • Saturday, Sept. 7
  • Saturday, Oct. 5
  • Saturday, Nov. 2
  • Saturday, Nov. 16

Spring Semester 2025

  • Saturday, Jan. 25
  • Saturday, Feb. 22
  • Saturday, March 29
  • Saturday, April 26

Summer Term 2025

  • Saturday, May 31
  • Saturday, June 14
  • Wednesday, July 9 (online synchronous meeting, 6-8 PM)
  • Wednesday, July 23 (online synchronous meeting, 6-8 PM)

Upcoming Events


"As a working adult in an executive level position within higher education, it was important for me to find a program that was flexible, rigorous, and encouraged a sense of belonging. The NIU HESA program ‘checked all of the boxes’. Kimberly Hollingsworth, Ed.D., Higher Education, 2022, President, Olive Harvey College

“I chose to attend NIU because I was looking for an executive Ed.D. program for working higher education professionals. I wanted a program that was hybrid in model and wasn’t too far from my home. The Naperville campus is centrally located and offered amazing flexibility for me during my program.” Mark Carbonara, Ed.D., Higher Education, 2021, Assistant Vice President for Advancement, Dominican University