Ed.D. in Higher Education


Our Executive Weekend Ed.D. in Higher Education will prepare you to advance in leadership roles at various types of postsecondary institutions. The program provides you with analytical, theoretical and foundational groundings to address contemporary issues facing higher education educators, administrators and institutions. Topics related to diversity, social justice and inclusion are thread throughout the curriculum. You will have the opportunity to engage with a dynamic community of experts in order to enhance your leadership skills. You can choose an emphasis in Higher Education Administration or College Teaching.

Emphasize Your Learning

College Teaching Emphasis

Designed to prepare professionals relative to the role of faculty in various postsecondary institutional contexts. Courses focus on learning theories for various student populations, pedagogical practices and assessment practices in student learning.

Higher Education Administration Emphasis

Designed to meet the needs of individuals seeking leadership or administrative advancement. Courses focus on educational policy, administration and student affairs.

The three-year weekend executive cohort program allows for a flexible learning environment with hybrid classes that meet Saturdays at NIU Naperville. You'll take two, eight-week courses during fall and spring terms. Summer classes will be in weekend or online format. 

Application Process

Our Executive Weekend Ed.D. in Higher Education admits students for fall 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 to the Graduate School:

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

Note: No GRE required. Three years of full-time higher education experience are required.

Students interested in the program are highly encouraged to set up an individual meeting with our academic counselor Danae Miesbauer or to attend an information session.

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 our academic counselor Danae Miesbauer at dmiesbauer@niu.edu or HESA program coordinator Gudrun Nyunt, Ph.D. at gnyunt@niu.edu.

Apply Today!

Our Ed.D. Executive Weekend cohort provides a sequenced program with coursework in areas of instruction, educational policy, 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 and college teaching.

Our practice-based curriculum embeds the knowledge and skills needed for leadership positions. Coursework focuses on equity, social justice and applied research. The culminating project is a dissertation of practice that centers real-world challenges within higher education.

Ed.D Program: 54 Credits Post Masters

* Emphasis in Higher Education Administration (HEA)
** Emphasis in College Teaching (CT)

Please note: Course for summer 2021 will be held asynchronously online due to pre-cautions and restrictions of COVID-19.
Fall Term Spring Term Summer Term
Year 1
  • HESA 702: Philosophy of Postsecondary Education
  • HESA 770: Administration of Higher Education
  • HESA 703: Postsecondary Access in Higher Education*
  • HESA 530: Instructional Theory, Practice, and Teaching in Postsecondary Education** or HESA 759: Critical and Feminist Pedagogies in Higher Education
  • HESA 720: Review of Research in Higher Education
  • Elective (3 Credits)
  • HESA 798: Research Seminar in Higher Education
Year 2
  • HESA 771: Legal Aspects in Higher Education *
  • HESA 733: Applied Learning Theories in Postsecondary Education** or HESA 740: Pedagogical Innovations and Student Learning
  • HESA 700: Workshop: Quantitative Foundations in Higher Educational Research
  • HESA 772: Financing of Higher Education*
  • HESA 530: Instructional Theory, Practice, and Teaching in Postsecondary Education** or HESA 759: Critical and Feminist Pedagogies in Higher Education
  • HESA 710: Evaluating Higher Education Programs
  • HESA 570: Organization, Personnel Management, and Academic Administration
  • HESA 504: Educating for Equity and Social Justice in Higher Education 
Year 3
  • HESA 575: Public Policy Studies in Higher Education*
  • HESA 733: Applied Learning Theories in Postsecondary Education** or HESA 740: Pedagogical Innovations and Student Learning
  • HESA 721: Applied Research Design 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 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.

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.

2020-21 Academic Weekend Cohort Dates

Fall 2020

  • Saturday, Aug. 29
  • Saturday, Sept. 26
  • Saturday, Oct. 24
  • Saturday, Nov. 14

Spring 2021

  • Saturday, Jan. 23
  • Saturday, Feb. 20
  • Saturday, March 27
  • Saturday, April 24

Summer 2021

  • Saturday, May 29
  • Saturday, June 19
  • Online synchronistic meetings:
    • Wednesday, July 7
    • Wednesday, July 21

2021-22 Academic Weekend Cohort Dates

Fall 202

  • Saturday, Aug. 28
  • Saturday, Sept. 25
  • Saturday, Oct. 23
  • Saturday, Nov. 20

Spring 2022

  • Saturday, Jan. 29
  • Saturday, Feb. 26
  • Saturday, April 2
  • Saturday, April 30
Summer 2022
  • Saturday, May 21
  • Saturday, June 11
  • Online synchronistic meetings:
    • Wednesday, June 29
    • Wednesday, July 20

Upcoming Events