Skip to Content
Apply Request

About the Program

Core Values

APU’s Department of Higher Education programs are driven by these core values:

Program Format

The Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education program meets on campus full time for two weeks each July and two weeks each January. At each visit, students conclude two courses and begin two new ones. Between sessions on campus, faculty and students are in communication with one another and assignments are submitted electronically. This schedule enables working professionals from the U.S. and abroad to participate in the program.

In addition, all students join a faculty-led research team for their second and third years of the program. These research teams often meet at professional conferences in between the January and July intensive sessions, and afford students the opportunity to not only conduct research, but to publish and present at professional conferences. Each student earns one unit of doctoral credit per semester on a team; four units are required for graduation.

In late May of the second year in the program, all students in the cohort join the faculty for a required international trip as part of the Global Policy course. In-country trip costs are included in the program fees and can be packaged as part of student loans.

The Ph.D. in Higher Education is a four-year sequenced curriculum of 60 units, inclusive of dissertation. Students in the cohort take all classes together in the same sequence, unless they transfer in specific units from other regionally accredited doctoral programs. Components of the dissertation process are embedded throughout the curriculum so that students are able to complete the full degree, including the dissertation, within four years. A guaranteed tuition plan ensures that students who follow the course sequence not only graduate on time, but never pay a higher tuition rate than when they entered the program.

The APU Experience

APU’s doctoral programs in higher education are intensive programs for the working professional. As such, there are distinctive features of these programs that make the APU experience a life-changing one for our students.

The Cohort Model

Students are admitted to the intensive program as part of a cohort. Cohorts are typically 15–18 students who are employed full-time in higher education or a related field. They take courses in a carefully designed sequence and stay with their cohort throughout the program. This model affords students the benefit of a network of professional colleagues with whom to study and conduct research. Our students report that their fellow students are one of the highlights of being in the intensive program.

Course Schedule

In the intensive program, students come to APU twice a year for two weeks each time. Morning classes are offered 8:30 a.m.–12 p.m. and afternoon classes meet 1:30–5 p.m. Two courses are offered each term. Each class consists of five days in July and five days in January; each term, two classes are starting and two classes are concluding. In between terms, students are working online on course assignments and attending professional conferences with their research teams.

Registration and Books

Students register for classes online. Payment for doctoral courses is due each term. A textbook list is sent in advance to students. Doctoral students are expected to complete some assigned reading in advance of each session.


Because housing is not available on campus during the intensive class sessions in January and July, the department has arranged for a specially negotiated group rate at the Best Western Glendora located three miles from campus. All housing arrangements are made with the department for ease of payment; housing costs typically average $600 per person (double occupancy) for each intensive.

Support from Your Home Institution

Students in this program hail from many different kinds of institutions throughout the world. Their home institutions provide various levels of support for these professional students who are pursuing graduate education. Please consider asking your home institution to support you in your advanced educational efforts. Types of institutional support students receive from their home institutions include the following: release time for professional development (2-4 weeks); funds for airfare, housing, and meals (as if attending a professional conference); book purchases; and tuition subsidy (faculty/staff development funds or benefit packages).

Local Airports and Transportation

Ontario International Airport (ONT) is the closest airport to APU, located approximately 25 minutes away. The Burbank (BUR), Los Angeles International (LAX), Long Beach (LGB), and John Wayne (SNA) airports are all about an hour from campus. Shuttle vans are available from the airport for a fee; however, most students arrange for a rental car. Ph.D. students receive a list of students who are flying in for the intensives each year, so that car pooling and airport pickups can be arranged.

Program Outcomes

At APU, 84.5% of students who begin the Ph.D. program graduate, compared to a national rate of 46.5%. Graduates of the Ph.D. in Higher Education are expected to:

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.