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Course Requirements

The doctoral program is 48 units, not including the required dissertation units. Most courses are 4 units, with some 2 unit courses. Some of the elective courses are offered in conjunction with travel to professional conferences or to international universities. Please read the complete course descriptions for more information.

Total48 units
Required Courses44 units
HED 701
Strengths-Oriented Leadership
HED 702
The Nature of Inquiry
HED 704
Ethical Issues in Higher Education
HED 708
College Impact on Student Success
HED 712 not found in course database
HED 721
Diversity and Social Justice in Higher Education
HED 725
Administration in Higher Education
HED 727
Introduction to U.S. Higher Education
HED 737 not found in course database
HED 742 not found in course database
HED 744 not found in course database
HED 748
Guided Inquiry Project I
HED 749
Guided Inquiry Project II
HED 790
Doctoral Seminar in Research Studies
Elective Courses4 units
Choose two of the following:
HED 707
Principles of Student Retention
HED 723
Higher Education and the Law
HED 726
Policy Analysis in Higher Education
HED 728
Policy and Politics
HED 743
Program Evaluation in Higher Education
HED 761
Strengths-Oriented Research and Programming
HED 780
International Higher Education Policy and Practice
HED 798
Special Topics
Dissertation Courses
When students complete the HED 790 seminar and begin dissertation work with their committee, they enroll in HED 794 for one semester (3 units) and then in HED 795 for each semester thereafter until the dissertation has been successfully defended. Enrollment in HED 795 is at a 50-percent reduction in tuition. Enrollment in these courses entitles a student access to faculty and university resources, including library databases and the services of the doctoral research librarian. These courses do not count toward the total unit requirement for the Ed.D. Continuous enrollment is required until the dissertation is successfully defended. Students are considered enrolled full time from the proposal (HED 790) through the completion of the dissertation (HED 794 and HED 795).
HED 794
Dissertation Research I
HED 795
Dissertation Research II
A unique feature of the Ed.D. program is that students in the dissertation phase of the program are clustered into thematic working groups for support and multiple perspectives on key issues facing practitioners in higher education. Students write individual dissertations, but partner with other Ed.D. students who share the same dissertation chair and area of interest. Guided by a faculty member who chairs the dissertations of all students in the same working group, students are able to share insights and recommendations about the literature and methodology in their area of interest, as well as support one another and hold each other accountable. Dissertation groups are initiated by faculty on an annual basis; each July the faculty publish the list of topics from which students may choose.
Independent Study
HED 799
Readings in Higher Education

Once a student has completed all coursework for the degree, he or she may enroll in additional courses at half tuition.

Comprehensive Examinations

All students enrolled in the Ph.D. in Higher Education program must pass all of their comprehensive examinations before defending their dissertation proposal and advancing to candidacy. The comprehensive examination process consists of demonstrating competence in four key areas: Leadership and Change (through a portfolio and case study), Student Success (through a creative design project), Diversity and Social Justice (through a video “Ted Talk”), and Critical Issues in Higher Education (through a manuscript submitted for publication or an institutional improvement project).

Transferring Units

Students in the Ph.D. program may transfer up to 16 units of coursework with a grade of B or higher from another regionally accredited doctoral program. Official transcripts and course descriptions must be submitted to the department chair, who will determine the courses that successfully transfer.

Sequence of Courses

Because the Ed.D. program utilizes a cohort model, students typically complete 16 units per year, taking courses in January and July in a specified sequence as follows:

Year 1
July: HED 701 and HED 702
January: HED 727 and HED 744

Year 2
July: HED 721 and HED 725
January: HED 708, HED 742, and HED 748
Elective: HED 761

Year 3
July: HED 737 and HED 749 and electives ( HED 707, HED 723, HED 726, HED 780)
January: HED 704, HED 712, HED 790

Additional Requirements

Grading and Grade-point Average

Throughout higher education, and particularly at the doctoral level, commitment to learning should outweigh the pursuit of grades. Nonetheless, grading and the grade-point average continue to play a crucial role in students’ careers. For doctoral students, the grade of B is considered average; a grade below B- is not applied toward doctoral degree requirements.

A doctoral student whose cumulative grade-point average falls below 3.0 or who has any grade below B- is placed on academic probation. Students whose cumulative grade-point average has not reached 3.0 by the end of two terms on probation may be dismissed from the program.

A doctoral student whose grade-point average falls between 3.0 and 3.2 or who earns eight credits or more of B- grades is required to meet with his/her advisor to identify academic skills that may need to be strengthened and to plan appropriate action.

Policies regarding incompletes and withdrawals are set forth in the Academic Policies and Procedures section of the academic catalog.

First-year Review

To evaluate success in meeting program goals and uphold the mission and objectives of the university and the School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences, the program design includes an extensive array of procedures for quality control and assessment. These include a first-year review, which calls for completion of the problem statement for the dissertation. The student’s academic performance is also reviewed. Continuation in the program is contingent upon a successful first-year review. A second-year review focuses on self-assessment as well as peer and faculty assessment.

Dissertation Proposal

Students in the Ph.D. program may enroll in HED 791 and begin the dissertation proposal after completing 48 units of coursework.

Critical Issues Conference

Christian perspectives and moral and ethical issues in higher education form an essential strand in the doctoral program and are embedded within all courses.

In addition, students must attend two of the annual program conferences on research or current issues in higher education that are offered each July on the Azusa campus.

Advancement to Candidacy

Following successful completion of all coursework and approval of the dissertation proposal, students are advanced to doctoral candidacy status.


The final step in the doctoral program is to design, implement, and write a research-based dissertation. Standards and procedures for the dissertation are defined by the doctoral faculty and are provided to students in a Dissertation Handbook.

Continuous enrollment in HED 791, HED 792, HED 794, and HED 795 is expected until the dissertation has been successfully defended.

The student defends the dissertation in a meeting with the faculty committee that is open to all faculty in the department. Subsequently, the student participates in a public presentation of the research.

Study Load

To be classified as a full-time doctoral student, one must be enrolled in at least 6 units per term. Half-time status is 3 units per term. At the dissertation level, students are considered full time if they are enrolled in any one of the following courses: HED 791, HED 792, HED 794, or HED 795.

Note: This information is current for the 2013-14 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.