Message from the Chair

The Department of Higher Education is the home of three degree programs, a doctoral-level certificate in strengths-oriented higher education, and ten full-time and three part-time faculty. Offering the MS in College Counseling and Student Development, the PhD in Higher Education, and the EdD in Higher Education Leadership, our department focuses on preparing the next generation of leaders, scholars, faculty, and student development professionals who will shape colleges and universities across the globe. Together, we strive to be a community of scholars and disciples who make a difference in the world.

The MS is a 42-unit degree offered on the Azusa campus that takes two years of coursework and internships to complete and is designed to equip students to become student affairs educators whose special interest is in college students and the environments that affect their development as persons and student-scholars. The PhD is a 60-unit research degree, inclusive of dissertation, designed to develop scholars who are able to conduct original research and communicate the results of that research through their writing, teaching, and leadership. The EdD is a 51-unit professional degree designed to develop educators and leaders who are able to apply their knowledge in order to improve higher education practice, primarily at the institutional level.

As a community of scholars, our faculty and students collaborate on research that makes a difference. We want our graduates to be able to do the kind of research that changes students’ lives and transforms the way colleges and universities do their work. Part of being “salt and light” in the world is being excellent researchers who tackle the significant issues affecting the field of higher education. As scholar-practitioners, our faculty have significant experience not only as researchers but as leaders in colleges and universities. Our master’s and doctoral programs focus on preparing our graduates to be advocates for student success and learning, leading institutions to greater effectiveness in the process.

As a community of disciples, the integration of faith and learning is an important distinctive across our programs. Faculty weave their faith into their classroom teaching, their scholarship, and their interactions with students. We value the importance of being mentors to our students, walking alongside them as they develop professionally.

APU offers the only doctoral programs in the country that take a strengths-oriented approach to the field of higher education. We focus on our students’ strengths at entry to the program, helping them develop and apply those strengths to achieve excellence.

The cohort model in all our programs means that each entering student joins a community of professionals who are journeying together toward the highest levels of scholarship and difference making in higher education. We are glad you are considering APU as the next step in advancing your career. Should you join us, we are confident that you will find a network of friends, colleagues, and mentors that will last a lifetime.

Christina Lunceford, PhD
Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Higher Education

Note: This information is current for the 2023-24 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.

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