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Leadership for Higher Education Specialization Doctor of Philosophy in Education

School of Education

Prepare to lead In higher education

Get ready to lead postsecondary education organizations with a PhD in Education, Leadership for Higher Education degree. Capella’s online program combines recognized theory and best practices with practical application to help you meet the challenges of higher education today. 

Your coursework and doctoral studies will help you develop the research, problem-solving, and leadership skills to guide traditional and distance education programs. 

Engage in topics such as learning theory, 21st century educational trends, opportunities for innovation and the use of technology, and more.  

At a Glance

  • Online & in person
  • 6 core courses
  • 8 specialization courses
  • 3 elective courses
  • 3 residencies
  • Comprehensive exam
  • Dissertation

Reduce your tuition by $10,000

Enroll in a qualified program, apply for a $10K scholarship, and meet the eligibility requirements.

Apply now »

Classes Start October 7th

Ready to get started? We’re ready for you. Chat with an enrollment counselor or apply now to take the first step on the journey toward your future.

$50 application fee (waived w/promo SUMMER)

What you’ll learn

Effective communication

Discover the tools for communicating effectively in adult learning environments. 

Leadership to manage change

Find the skills to guide educators as they face challenges, innovations, and opportunities. 

Resource management

Know the right balance of material and personnel resources for supporting higher education organizations.

Personal leadership skills

Gain the skills necessary for leading people and organizations devoted to adult learning. 

Understanding & inclusiveness

Lead academic excellence and promote diversity, equity, and globalization for all adult learners.

Digital technology integration

Empower adult learners by engaging them with innovative instruction and current technology. 

Our unique doctoral structure

Our PhD in Education, Leadership for Higher Education program is designed to remove roadblocks for you and demystify the dissertation process. This unique approach centers on supporting you in three ways: through program structure, a dedicated faculty and support team, and online resources. To help generate momentum toward graduation, you’ll begin your dissertation early in the program. Our faculty, support team, and online resources will help guide you every step of the way.

PhD in Higher Education Leadership program features

Our program offers additional benefits you might be interested in.

Professionally aligned program

This program incorporates recognized, professional standards in the higher education field, adding to your learning experience.  

Grow as a scholar-practitioner

Develop advanced skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, and research to help you grow as a scholar-practitioner. 

Cost & learning format

Online education isn’t one-size-fits-all. We know you’re busy—you need a learning experience tailored to your life, not the other way around. Capella has learning and tuition formats to suit you, however you learn. 

Our original learning format offers extra structure for those who want it. We'll set the schedule, you meet the deadlines. 

  • Based on the quarter system; 1-3 courses per 10-week quarter
  • 1 semester credit = 1.5 quarter credits
  • Weekly assignments and courseroom discussions
  • Pay for what you take, price varies by courseload or term
$745 per credit, 92 total quarter credits, 16 max transfer credits

Get the details

Speak with an enrollment counselor to get a personalized cost estimate for what you can expect to pay.

Ways to save

At Capella, we believe your education is an investment in your future. It’s also an investment within your grasp. Your goals are achievable—there are more ways to save than you might think. 

Transfer credits

We can accept many transfer credits from regionally accredited schools.


There are a variety of need-based federal grants available to help pay for tuition and costs.

Federal work study

Part-time jobs sponsored by the U.S. government are available to help you reduce loan debt.

Accredited & recognized

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Accreditation and recognitions provide the assurance we meet standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, learner services, and fiscal stability. See all of our accreditations and recognitions

PhD in Higher Education sample courses

Our online PhD in Education, Leadership for Higher Education coursework emphasizes leadership theories and models; higher education history, politics, law, assessment, funding and financing, human resource management and administration; and the future of teaching and learning. The program includes dissertation research seminars which allow you to get an early start on your dissertation.

Show course with description
The Future of Teaching and Learning: Issues for the Educational Leader

In this course, learners explore and analyze the issues shaping teaching and learning. Learners use futuring methods to examine the ways history, technology, trends, and change affect the future of teaching and learning. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer or prior learning assessment.

4 quarter credits
Higher Education and the Law

In this course, learners evaluate constitutional, statutory, and case law as related to higher education. Learners review federal and state legislation and their implications for both public and private higher education institutions. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
Advanced Funding and Managing Education Enterprises

In this course, learners explore and analyze the financing and fundraising plans of higher education enterprises. Learners explore current political and finance issues associated with higher education institution funding and management with an emphasis on endowments, public and private funding models, and intellectual property rights. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
Leadership in Higher Education

Learners in this course examine the leadership philosophies, theories, and decision-making structures associated with higher education administration. Learners explore the nature and function of leadership; leadership roles; and institutional history, vision, culture, politics, and organizational structure. Cannot be fulfilled by prior learning assessment.

4 quarter credits

Higher Education Leadership professional paths

Here are just some of the career options you could explore with our online PhD in Education, Leadership for Higher Education degree.

Related job titles to explore*

  • Full-time, adjunct, or part-time faculty
  • Dean of student affairs
  • Director of academic advising
  • Director of alumni relations
  • Director of institutional research
  • Director of student retention
  • Faculty development director
  • President
  • Provost
  • Vice president for student affairs

Related employment settings to explore

  • Adult education organization
  • Community college
  • Continuing education program
  • For-profit institution
  • Higher education research and policy organization
  • Land-based or online college or university
  • Military education
  • Research and policy organization
  • Technical college

*These are examples intended to serve as a general guide. Some positions may prefer or even require previous experience, licensure, certifications, and/or other designations along with a degree. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title, a promotion, salary increase, or other career outcome. We encourage you to research requirements for your job target and career goals.

Other programs to explore

Is this program close to what you need, but maybe not a perfect fit? The programs below might be interesting. Check them out to find one that suits your academic and professional goals.

Ready for the Next Step?

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