Student Stories

Read what some of our former students have to say about their experience in our department’s programs:

Joretta Nelson, Ph.D.

Vice President/Owner, Credo Higher Ed

My higher education career began as a music faculty member, but in moving from faculty to administration, I recognized my limitations in knowledge about the field of student success. I knew that to be most effective in leading a campus to improve the student success environment, I would need a much greater depth of knowledge of the related research and best practices. I wanted to learn how to contribute to the field as well.

Laurie Schreiner, Ph.D., had recently joined the APU faculty and I was familiar with her research, her reputation, and her circle of research connections. After meeting her and other program faculty, I spent time with current doctoral students, and I liked what I found: a challenging, research-based program that required high levels of intense learning with the expectation of scholarly contribution. That expertise was balanced with consistent questions of how such knowledge could be applied.

I faced the same hurdle every college student faces today—time—but I found a study routine that fit my lifestyle, found several accountability partners, was transparent with my academic advisor—who held my feet to the fire—and integrated exercise into my life to keep my sanity.

I met extraordinary people in this program, including faculty and students—the late-night discussions and philosophical debates were thrilling. The faculty are experts in their fields and, specifically, my committee chair was instrumental in some of my personal-learning breakthroughs. She treated me as a colleague and her expectations raised my performance.

I strongly recommend this program to anyone considering a doctorate in higher education. There is a great balance of learning about self as well as content. Central to the ethos of this program is honoring God and His call to us to devote ourselves to serving Him and others. The values behind the program shine through, and I appreciated the Christian worldview that is integrated into the fabric of APU.

Joseph Womack, Ed.D.

President, Northwest Christian University

I’ve been blessed over the years to have several mentors within higher education who encouraged me to consider a professional and educational journey that might lead to a college presidency. I decided to pursue a doctorate as a result, in large part, of such encouragement.

I think my apprehensions were primarily surrounding a balance between family, work, and my personal ambitions. In the end, the APU program emerged as the most doable—the format of the program allowed me the opportunity to continue working and was a better fit for my family.

I expected the curriculum to be stimulating and relevant, and I expected to be challenged by faculty. What I didn’t anticipate was the value of the relationships that were built with faculty and fellow students, many of whom remain close. For me the program was defined by what I consider to be the great gift of being able to weave my life, hopes, and dreams for service with truly beautiful individuals—faculty and students who were willing to share their expertise, experience, and faith, even their fragility and disappointments. I learned that I had greater intellectual capacities, and greater capacities as a child of God and a servant of the Gospel, than I had known.

I’ve recommended this program numerous times, because my experience in the program was so meaningful, because the program struck the appropriate balance between theory and practice, and because what I learned has proven useful in the increased opportunities to serve that I’ve had since finishing. I don’t believe I would have been given the opportunity to serve in my current role had I not attended APU, nor do I believe I would be qualified for this service had I not completed my Ed.D. there.

Eric McIntosh, Ph.D.

Research Director
Civitas Learning, Inc.

I needed a Ph.D. in higher education in order to align my career goals with the required academic qualifications many institutions now seek from senior leaders. I was concerned about the cost of the degree, but I’m able to offset the loan costs with my increased earning potential over the longer term. I was also afraid that APU would deliver a one-sided evangelical Christian approach to scholarship, but I was relieved to experience the wide ecumenism within the higher education student cohort and faculty. I also wanted my degree to be as academically rigorous and scholarly as a Ph.D. at a secular institution, and it was.

I appreciated the opportunity to do distance education—with an established family in Canada, I did not want to uproot in order to complete my studies. The program also allowed me to continue working while going to school.

The ability to research with faculty and grow into a scholar far exceeded my expectations of a doctoral program. I found faculty who mentored me, befriended me, and supported me throughout my time as a student at APU and even after graduating. My work with my dissertation supervisor and the faculty on my dissertation committee pushed me to achieve excellence in ways I had never before experienced. Also, the camaraderie of the cohort group was a great catalyst for challenging conversation, support, friendship, and competition.

To me, APU has an internationally top-tier program for studying higher education at the doctoral level, and has the top Christian university program for doctoral higher education. Scholarship through excellence in research is a high priority in the doctoral programs in higher education at APU, and that sets the APU programs apart from other programs, Christian or otherwise.

Note: This information is current for the 2017-18 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.