Building Higher Ed Leaders

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Breaking into the world of higher education administration is no easy task, even for people who have spent years working at colleges and universities. The Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies offers a PhD in higher education administration to help professionals who aspire to enhance their leadership knowledge and skills and learn more about policy for service in administrative, faculty, and policy roles. Take a look at how three graduates say the program helped them.


Crystal Diaz-Espinoza

Director, Office of Enrollment, Career & Alumni Services
Garland School of Social Work, Baylor University

What’s the most useful thing you learned?

How to be a strong qualitative researcher. I was able to use the cognate hours to complete the graduate certificate in qualitative research, and that has allowed me to teach qualitative courses at the graduate level.

How has it changed your life?

The program offered me a stepping stone into my career as a student affairs administrator working within academic affairs.

How is the program coursework useful in your current job?

The program coursework allowed me to deeply understand the field of higher education and helped sharpen the leadership skills I use every day.


Jamia Stokes

Associate Dean for Student Success
Rhodes College

What’s the most useful thing you learned?

This program helped me develop a strong professional network of people that I can call on if I need advice or support. The program also helped me build a network of lifelong friends. The course on values and ethics was the most valuable.

How has it changed your life?

First, it expanded my knowledge and understanding of higher education and student development. Second, it gave me exposure to upper-level administrators, which helped me begin thinking about where I wanted my career to go upon degree completion.

How is the program coursework useful in your current job?

As the associate dean for student success, I oversee a number of programs. The comprehensive coursework provided me with a solid foundation for understanding higher education governance and policy.


Keith Carver

University of Tennessee, Martin

What’s the most useful thing you learned?

I truly enjoyed the interaction with my faculty on research projects. I learned a great deal about good research practices and approaches.

How has it changed your life?

It gave me lifelong friends, both from the cohort and the faculty.

How is the program coursework useful in your current job?

It’s been extremely helpful as I deal with statewide educational policy.

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