Doctoral Programs in Higher Education

Advancing Education.
Advancing Your Career.

Are you interested in conducting research on higher education? Do you want to influence your field and the  next generation of practitioners?
Whether you want to become a faculty member in higher education, pursue leadership positions in colleges and universities, or contribute new knowledge about higher education, Warner’s flexible doctoral programs in higher education will help you achieve your goals.   

We invite you to check out our doctoral programs, and see how you can benefit from the expertise and support of faculty involved in cutting-edge research and innovative education reform projects, while pursuing your specific interests.
We Can Customize Your Doctoral Program to Meet Your Career Goals and Interests!

Program Quickview

The Warner School's PhD and EdD programs in higher education can be easily customized to meet your specific career goals and interests in areas such as student affairs, higher education leadership, and administration. No matter what specialization you are interested in, Warner will work with you to help you achieve the goals for your doctoral program.

If you are interested in other Warner doctoral programs, check our Related Programs.
  • A master’s degree in higher education or a related field.
  • Relevant work experience in higher education is highly desirable.
Key Program Features:
  • Minimum Credits: 90 graduate credits; some of which can be transferred from previous programs (up to 30 credits for PhDs; up to 36 credits for EdDs).
  • Customizable: Programs include a mix of research, core/specialization, and elective courses to enable you to tailor the program to your career interests and needs. You also can take advantage of the opportunity to complete an advanced certificate in program evaluation or online teaching for few additional required credits.
  • Choice of Research Methods: Benefit from a vast array of research methods courses, and choose from a variety of research methods for your dissertation.
  • Exciting Research Opportunities: Warner faculty are always working on exciting projects that can provide opportunities for research apprenticeships and assistantships.
  • Flexible: Programs can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis, starting in any semester; minimum one year full-time residency requirement for PhD students only.

Warner Doctoral Programs in Higher Education

PhD in Education with Concentration in Higher Education (HE3): Prepares graduates for academic positions in universities and other higher education settings, as well as research positions in government agencies or other educational organizations.

EdD in Educational Administration with Specialization in Higher Education: Prepares and supports experienced educators for leadership positions in their field, as well as selected higher education faculty positions; can be completed on a part-time basis while maintaining full-time employment. You can choose between two options to complete the same program requirements:
  • EdD Accelerated Option (HE9): Dissertation must utilize a decision analysis or program evaluation models related to your job, to be completed in the span of one year as part of a cohort, supported through a multi-semester dissertation seminar. This program can be completed in as few three years by taking coursework in a prescribed sequence.
  • EdD Traditional Option (HE2): More flexibility for type and pace of dissertation completion.
Warner alumna on campus outside of LeChase HallProfessor and students in circle holding class on quad
Opportunities for Additional Specializations (with additional credits required):
  • Advanced Certificate in Program Evaluation: To strengthen your research skills in planning and conducting evaluations of existing programs.
  • Advanced Certificate in Online Teaching: To be more competitive for positions that may involve teaching online.
Choosing Between a PhD and an EdD Program … What’s the Difference?
Warner PhD programs are primarily designed to prepare researchers and higher education faculty. Our EdD programs are more appropriate for experienced professionals interested in using research to solve problems of practice, enabling them to pursue leadership positions in educational institutions or to assist them in designing and implementing programs to improve practice in their field.

While the required coursework may be similar, these two degree programs have different expectations concerning dissertation study, expertise in research methods, and residency requirements.  Here’s what you can expect:
  • PhD students are expected to focus on only a few specific areas early on so as to become experts in those areas. EdD students, on the other hand, are expected to develop a broad understanding of their own as well as related fields.
  • While both PhD and EdD students take the same foundational research methods courses, PhD students are required to take additional, advanced research methods courses to develop expertise in using a rich array of traditional research methods.
  • PhD dissertations require independent research that will contribute new knowledge to their field, while EdD dissertations may involve a wider array of choices, including case studies of specific innovations; action research studies to improve specific programs or practices; research- and data-based analysis to inform important decisions; or rigorous evaluations of existing programs.
  • In addition to their dissertation, PhD students are required to engage in research apprenticeships with faculty.
  • EdD students can complete their program part time, while PhD students are required to complete at least one year of residency (i.e., be full time for two consecutive semesters, taking at least 12 credits of coursework each semester, or 9 credits if awarded an assistantship) and are encouraged to complete as much of their program as possible full time.
Contact admissions if you wish to speak with a faculty member to better understand which option will best meet your career goals.

Our Approach

Preparing You to be an Innovative Educational Leader and Researcher.

Warner’s doctoral programs in higher education are designed to deepen and broaden students’ knowledge and skills in higher education, to equip them to serve as advocates and change agents for postsecondary education, and/or as researchers and faculty in higher education settings.

The program features a rigorous core of research, theory, critical issues, and diversity coursework, supplemented by a variety of student-selected topical and advanced research coursework to support their career and dissertation goals.
Warner alumnus on steps of LeChase
Learn More About Warner's Approach to Doctoral Programs
All doctoral programs offered at the Warner School are characterized by the following common principles and goals:
  • Integration of Research, Theory, and Practice: We believe that doctoral candidates should recognize the false dichotomy between theory and practice, as well as the complementary values of basic and applied research.  Our graduates will not only gain an excellent understanding of key theories in their field, but will also be able to identify and critically examine the theoretical framework informing research reported in the literature, as well as their own. EdD candidates also form a solid research and theory base that grounds their leadership in their field of practice.   
  • Interdisciplinarity and Collaboration: We encourage doctoral candidates to recognize the need and value of collaborating across fields and constituencies to address complex problems in education.
  • Commitment to Social Justice: We strengthen our doctoral candidates' commitment to equity and social justice and for conducting research that is inclusive of all individuals, communities, and cultures.
  • In-Depth Knowledge of Area of Specialization: Our doctoral candidates develop a broad and solid knowledge of relevant research in their area of specialization, while understanding how that field is connected to others.
  • Research Practices: Our doctoral candidates articulate and pursue worthwhile research questions, and are familiar with and able to use a variety of research methodologies relevant to their field of specialization.   
  • Academic Writing Practices: We prepare our doctoral candidates to effectively communicate research results in scholarly publications, consistent with academic writing expectations.

The Warner Advantage

Preparing Graduates to Innovate, Advocate, and Elevate.

Warner is helping to create world-class educational leaders and researchers who can advance postsecondary institutions.
  • Become an innovator and a thought leader in your field by learning from faculty involved in cutting-edge research and innovations.
  • Develop strong research skills by taking advantage of a diverse set of research methods courses and opportunities for research apprenticeships.
  • Deepen and broaden your skillset and increase your competitiveness in the job market by adding an advanced certificate for only a few additional credits.
  • Network with a talented cohort of educators and future leaders from across the United States and around the world.
  • Learn from an accessible, supportive faculty of accomplished researchers and practitioners who will prepare you to think critically, promote inclusivity, and utilize your skills to examine and address ever-changing challenges in higher education.
  • Small, personalized program allows both flexibility to pursue your interests and opportunities to create strong relationships with faculty.
  • Give your degree even more recognition by leveraging the reputation of a leading research university.
  • Leverage the breadth and depth of learning opportunities available at a world-class research university.
While rigorous, Warner can provide a customized, flexible, and affordable program.
  • Go at your own pace by choosing between full-time or part-time options. 
  • Reduce tuition costs by taking advantage of a wide range of competitive full and partial assistantship opportunities.
  • Use your electives and choices for core courses to specialize in your area of interest and/or add advanced certificates.
  • Take advantage of online courses to reduce trips to campus.
  • Are you a University of Rochester employee? Make sure you make full use of your tuition benefits.

All About Experience

Your experience at Warner will be informed by the many research projects and community initiatives we are engaged in. In addition, you'll benefit from the experience of faculty that include nationally recognized researchers, award-winning authors and accomplished practitioners.

Motivation and College Success

Motivation and College Success

An interdisciplinary team of Warner faculty with expertise in motivation and higher education has developed a new model to explain college students’ persistency and achievement. This work is expanding the cultural motivation theory model to incorporate cultural orientations to explain students’ intent to persist and GPA.

Admissions Building

Uncovering the impact of trauma, mentorship on college student development

What do traumatic experiences and great mentors have in common? Both have the potential to inform and shape the development of young adults studying in a higher education institution.


 ACPA Names Tricia Shalka as Emerging Scholar Designee 

Warner School faculty member Tricia Shalka has been selected as a 2019-21 Emerging Scholar Designee by the American College Personnel Association (ACPA). 

Career Opportunities

Warner Doctoral Programs Provide the Perfect Pathway to Wherever You Want to Go.

Warner doctoral graduates are well prepared to assume a variety of positions in colleges and universities, community colleges, professional schools,  as well as other educational organizations.
  • Graduates of our EdD programs in higher education are prepared to assume a variety of senior administrative positions in higher education institutions of all types, as well as faculty/teaching positions in programs aimed at preparing the next generation of higher education practitioners.
  • Graduates of our PhD program in higher education are prepared to assume faculty and research positions in higher education institutions, as well as research, advocacy, and leadership positions in other higher education-focused organizations.
Warner graduates in cap and gown taking a selfie


An Accessible, Supportive Faculty of Researchers and Accomplished Practitioners.

Core Program Faculty

Andrea Barrett, EdD
(student affairs administration; academic operations)

Brian Brent, PhD
(decision making; K-12 and higher education finance)

Eric Fredericksen, EdD
(online teaching and learning)

Doug Guiffrida, PhD
(college student retention; counseling skills for educators)

Nathan Harris, PhD
(university leadership and governance; ethical issues)

Tricia Shalka, PhD
(impact of trauma on college students; international student experiences)

Tiffany Steele, PhD
(Influence of external factors on their identity development)

Learn More About All Warner School Faculty


Making Warner Affordable.

Many of our full-time doctoral students benefit from full and partial assistantships to support their studies while gaining valuable career experience at the same time.  Full assistantships require 15 to 20 hours per week of service during the fall and spring semesters, and provide a full tuition waiver as well as a stipend.  Partial assistantships require five to 10 hours per week of service, and offer tuition reduction and stipends commensurate with hours of service. Contact admissions for more information.

Are You a UR Employee? Inquire about your tuition benefits. If eligible, up to 95% of your tuition costs can be covered depending on your position. Contact the UR benefits office at

Vasquez in class at table with studnets


Meliora means 'Ever Better.' To our graduates, it means making a world of difference.

  • Dawn Santiago-Marullo, Superintendent, Victor, NY

    "The most important thing I received there was the opportunity to be immersed in the study of education and leadership with very talented people, that think-tank mentality of being surrounded by the best of the best. The intellectual stimulation from both the staff and fellow classmates really did allow me to think about things differently."

    Dawn Santiago-Marullo, Superintendent, Victor, NY

  • Shannon Walton, Sports Performance Counselor, Rochester, NY

    “I had a very unique situation. I wasn’t going down the typical path of a Warner student, and the school was just so flexible and supportive.”

    Shannon Walton, Sports Performance Counselor, Rochester, NY

  • Laura Van Laeken, Teacher, Midlakes, NY

    "The growth I’ve realized in myself is something I will be forever grateful for. I’ve learned to question, analyze, think and create in ways I never considered. I’ve changed as an educator and as a person."

    Laura Van Laeken, Teacher, Midlakes, NY

  • Jeremy Friedman, Research Associate, Harlem Children

    “When it came time to interview for jobs, it was very easy for me to talk about anything in the field, and that set me apart,” he says. “You name it, and I had at least one experience in it—largely due to Warner.”

    Jeremy Friedman, Research Associate, Harlem Children's Zone, New York, NY

  • Beatriz M. Folch-Torres, MD, Rochester, NY

    “It was more than I expected. Not only what I learned in the program, which I’ve been able to put into practice every day since, but also the connections I was able to make and the relationships I was able to form."

    Beatriz M. Folch-Torres, MD, Rochester, NY

  • Jody Goodman, Program Director, UMass Amherst

    “As educators, it’s our job to make sure we’re giving students the knowledge to be successful when they move on in their life….Warner was the best grad school experience I’ve ever had because it prepared me extremely well to jump into my career, and I will forever be grateful for that.”

    Jody Goodman, Program Director, UMass Amherst

Contact Admissions

The admissions team looks forward to assisting you as you explore graduate education at the Warner School. Please feel free to use the form below to contact us with any questions. You can also email us at or call (585) 275-3950.

Application Deadlines

PhD applications are accepted once a year, and can be applied to from October 17 until December 15.

The next application deadline for the EdD program is March 01, 2023.

View all application deadlines

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