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Academic Affairs and Student Development

Overview & Requirements
Careers & Internships

The Higher Education Academic Affairs and Student Development Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education program focuses on the teaching and learning missions of colleges and universities, and on the communities in which these central functions occur. Graduates may consider an academic or research career, so there are opportunities to develop research skills, studying students, faculty, diversity, teaching and learning, curriculum, history, philosophy, international and comparative higher education, and institutional policy.

Three major perspectives are used in this doctoral program to inform students' understanding of teaching and learning environments:

  • Individual learning and development
  • Institutional factors that affect teaching and learning in postsecondary contexts 
  • Societal conditions (social, cultural, and historical) that affect teaching and learning

This concentration opens doors to myriad administrative career options within the academic and student affairs structures of colleges and universities.

Students are assigned an academic advisor from among the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education (CSHPE) faculty members, based on shared professional interests. Students and advisors work together to develop a plan of study that is appropriate to the student’s background and career interests. As students progress, they meet annually with CSHPE faculty, who conduct an academic review of students’ progress to ensure all needs are being met.

Additional Certificate and Endorsement Opportunities


Total Credit Hours Required

Common curricular credits


Students complete the following courses:

  • EDUC 622 – Proseminar in Higher Education
  • EDUC 661 – History of Postsecondary Education
  • EDUC 899 – PhD Qualifying Paper

In EDUC 622 and 661, students receive a broad overview of postsecondary education from contemporary and historical perspectives. In EDUC 899, students integrate concepts from scholarly literature to answer a question they themselves pose.

Gateway credits


Gateway courses introduce students to concentrations and typically serve as prerequisites for advanced studies within concentrations. Students choose from the following courses:

  • EDUC 690 – Academic Affairs and Student Development in Postsecondary Education (gateway to the Academic Affairs and Student Development concentration)
  • EDUC 761 – Postsecondary Institutions as Complex Organizations (gateway to the Organizational Behavior and Management concentration)
  • EDUC 764 – Public Policy in Postsecondary Education (gateway to the Public Policy in Postsecondary Education concentration)

Research credits


Students complete the following courses:

  • EDUC 767 – Research Practicum in Higher and Continuing Education
  • EDUC 793 – Introduction to Quantitative Methods in Educational Research
  • EDUC 795 – Quantitative Methods for Non-Experimental Research (or an equivalent statistics course)
  • A course in qualitative methods
  • An advanced methods course for dissertation-related research

Concentration credits


Students complete a minimum of 12 credits in concentration courses chosen in consultation with faculty advisers.

Cognate credits


Students complete a minimum of six credits in cognate courses, chosen in consultation with faculty advisers, outside their area of study but connected in some way to it. Credits from graduate courses outside the Marsal School may be used to fulfill the cognate requirement with approval from faculty advisers.

Elective credits

Students choose elective courses as needed to fulfill the 60-credit requirement. Students may choose electives that exceed the gateway, research, concentration, or cognate minimum requirements. Electives may be offerings from or outside the Marsal School.

Dissertation, precandidacy, and candidacy credits

Students complete the following courses:

  • EDUC 990 – Dissertation Pre-Candidacy
  • EDUC 995 – Dissertation Candidacy



Frequently Asked Questions

Prospective students

Prospective Students

CSHPE students

Discover more offerings from CSHPE

The Center for the Study of Postsecondary and Higher Education

Associated Faculty

Associate Professor, Marsal Family School of Education
(734) 647-1652
Professor Emeritus, Marsal Family School of Education; Faculty Associate, Institute for Social Research
(734) 647-8394
Assistant Professor, Marsal Family School of Education
Director, Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education; Professor, Marsal Family School of Education; Professor, College of Engineering
(734) 647-1979
Associate Professor, Marsal Family School of Education

Connect with CSHPE


Phone: (734) 764-9472
Fax: (734) 764-2510
Master's: [email protected]
Doctoral: [email protected]


610 E. University Avenue
Room 2117
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1259

Office Hours

8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Application Deadline

Fall (Aug)
December 1

Application Process

Step 1: Prepare your application materials

To submit a successful application for admission, you need to provide the following:

  • Academic Statement of Purpose
    • The Academic Statement of Purpose should be a concise statement about your academic and research background, your career goals, and your reasons for applying to this degree program. Please be specific in explaining how the course offerings and faculty expertise of this program fit your educational and career objectives. Please mention if you are interested in attending part-time. We are also interested in how you learned about our program. Two double-spaced pages is considered a good length.
    • Part-Time Admission: Applicants seeking admission to a master’s program may attend on a part-time basis. Please indicate this in your Academic Statement of Purpose.
  • Personal Statement
    • 500 word limit
    • How have your background and life experiences, including cultural, geographical, financial, educational or other opportunities or challenges, motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan? For example, if you grew up in a community where educational, cultural, or other opportunities were either especially plentiful or especially lacking, you might discuss the impact this had on your development and interests. This should be a discussion of the journey that has led to your decision to seek a graduate degree. Please do not repeat your Academic Statement of Purpose.
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation
    • We strongly encourage two of your letters come from individuals who are familiar with your academic performance. The third may be from a professional reference.
    • Register your recommenders' names and contact information on the online application so that they will be sent instructions for submitting their letters via the application system. Let your recommenders know that they need to upload a letter and that it is required by the program.
    • As soon as you click "save" on the page of the application where your recommenders' contact information is entered, they will receive an email with instructions for completing the process. Proceed to this point in the application process as soon as possible to trigger that email.
  • Resume or CV
  • Test Scores (See test details in Step 5 below) 
    • English proficiency scores (for non-native speakers of English only)
    • GRE Test Scores are not required for admission
Step 2: Create an ApplyWeb account, managed by Rackham Graduate School

Create an account with Rackham Graduate School.

This program, like all of the Marsal Family School of Education's graduate programs, is administered through the University of Michigan's Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies. Rackham offers a host of resources and administrative support to help see you through from submitting your application to completion of your degree.

Step 3: Complete pages 1-5 of application using ApplyWeb
  • After completing page 5 of the application, you will receive an e-mail with your U-M ID. A U-M ID number will be issued to you via email within 5 business days of completing pages 1-5 and advancing to page 6 of the ApplyWeb application. Having your U-M ID number to include on all your application materials ensures accurate and timely processing, so we encourage you to complete pages 1-5 early in the process.
  • If you need to submit your application before you receive your U-M ID number, you may still complete the application. Include your date of birth and the program’s name on your application materials.
  • Current and former U-M Ann Arbor students, alumni and employees: You do not need to obtain a new U-M ID number. Use your previously obtained U-M ID number.
  • If your personal information has changed (for example, legal name, gender), make sure the personal information you submit with your application matches your previous Ann Arbor campus record. If your previous Ann Arbor campus record does not display your current personal information, contact the Registrar’s Office or the Shared Services Center to change your personal information before you apply.
Step 4: Upload academic statement of purpose, the personal statement, and a curriculum vitae (CV) or resume to the ApplyWeb application

Include at the top of each document:

  • The type of document (Academic Statement of Purpose, Personal Statement, or Curriculum Vitae or Resume)
  • Your name
  • The name of the graduate program
  • Your 8 digit U-M ID (if known)

Make sure margins are at least one-inch so nothing is cropped when you upload the documents to the application.

Step 5: Submit test scores
  • TOEFL, MELAB, ECPE, or IELTS scores (for non-native speakers of English only; valid 2 years from test date)
  • GRE Test Scores
    • GRE test scores are not required for admission, but scores (valid 5 years from test date) can be included with your application.
    • Provide ETS with the U-M Institutional Code of 1839 and your scores will be sent directly to the university.
  • Test scores must be sent directly from the testing center to the Rackham Graduate School. We recommend starting this process early as it can take up to two weeks for the scores to be received. 
Step 6: Submit transcripts
  • Upload an electronic version of your official transcript(s) for each Bachelor’s, Master’s, Professional, or Doctoral degree earned or in progress through your ApplyWeb application account (part of the Rackham application system). Do not upload academic records printed from your school’s website or student portal.
  • You are not required to send official transcripts at the time of application. If you are recommended for admission, the Rackham Graduate School will require official transcripts. Admitted applicants will receive an email notification when the official transcripts are required.
  • Students who have studied in a country outside of the U.S. should review the required credentials from non-U.S. institutions. For all degrees obtained at non-U.S. institutions—Request that degree-granting institutions submit official transcripts/records to the Rackham Graduate School at the time of application.
  • Information for submitting official transcripts can be found on the Rackham Graduate School website.
Step 7: Check that letters of recommendation have been submitted
  • Check the status of your letters of recommendation, change a recommender, or resend the notification email to your recommender using the ApplyWeb Activity Page
  • Please reach out to [email protected] if there are any questions regarding the submission of the letters of recommendation.
Step 8: Create a U-M Friend Account

Check on your application status. If you’ve been accepted, you will receive an email with information on how to send your official transcripts.

Step 9: Respond to admission offer
  • If you have been accepted, congratulations! You may accept or decline the offer of admission in your U-M Friend Account.
  • For international students that accept offer of admission, Rackham prepares immigration documents for visas.
Contact us

For questions regarding the master's or doctoral program application in Higher Education:

For questions regarding tuition, scholarships, financial aid, & residency:

For general questions regarding the master’s or doctoral program in Higher Education:

Quick Facts

GRE general exam scores

Not required

Prior master's degree

Not required

Undergraduate GPA guideline


Guideline for previous two years of coursework on a 4-point scale

Graduate GPA guideline


Guideline on a 4-point scale

Financial aid


Online, evening, or weekend courses

Not available

Entry term

Fall (August)

Connect with CSHPE


Phone: (734) 764-9472
Fax: (734) 764-2510
Master's: [email protected]
Doctoral: [email protected]


610 E. University Avenue
Room 2117
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1259

Office Hours

8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.



of known graduate found full-time employment in the field of education


of known graduates are highly satisfied or satisfied with their current position


average starting salary