This is a named option in the Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis PhD.

The Department's focus is to develop a knowledge base that includes an understanding of the institutional context of higher education, academic leadership, culture and governance, and student services administration. Program faculty have expertise in a variety of institutional types and educational contexts, including research universities, historically black colleges and universities, community colleges, vocational technical colleges, adult learning in non-traditional settings, and the view that education should be approached as a K-16 system. Students receive a strong foundation in research methods (both qualitative and quantitative), and an understanding of the institutional dynamics and policy context of post-secondary education.

Students who have received their Ph.D. in Higher Education in our department have successfully pursued a wide range of leadership, faculty, and senior administrator and staff positions in colleges and universities across this country and the globe.  To illustrate, some graduates have gone on to become presidents of community colleges, four year colleges, major research universities, and liberal arts colleges.  Others have taken on a wide range of senior administrative and staff positions, such as vice-presidents of statewide systems of higher education, chief diversity officers, colleges and university provosts, and university-wide assessment directors.  Still others have taken on faculty and staff positions at a wide range of colleges and universities, including major research universities as well as regional colleges and universities. 

Fall Deadline December 1
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Ph.D. applicants are required to upload the following items to the online application.

1. Essay statement. Each applicant must submit a "Reasons for Study" essay. As you prepare your responses, we invite you to review the information on our website to review the program literature, to talk with our alumni and current students, and to interact with members of the faculty and staff. Ph.D. applicants should address the following in an essay that does not exceed three pages (single or double spaced.)

  • What are your primary career goals and professional gaps you have identified as important for your intellectual and professional advancement over the next 5-10 years?
  • In what ways will these professional gaps be addressed through a doctoral program at UW-Madison?
  • Describe at least one research topic and/or project you plan to work on during your doctoral program.
  • As you will note, we are interested in developing and maintaining a diverse and engaged learning community. Please identify any unique or special contributions you will bring to this community.

A "Strong" essay is characterized by:

  • A clear, through, well-organized essay that expresses ideas in a detailed and engaging manner.
  • Addresses all components of the instructions.
  • Paragraphs signal the divisions of thought and sentences flow with ideas in a logical sequence.
  • No (or very few) noticeable errors in composition.
  • The articulation of clear scholarly interests that are consistent with the department's mission and that may expand knowledge within the field.

A "Satisfactory" essay is characterized by:

  • A detailed, well-organized essay.
  • Addresses all components of the instructions.
  • Paragraphs signal the major divisions of thought and sequence.
  • Few errors in composition.
  • The articulation of scholarly interests that are consistent with the department's mission.

A "Weak" essay is characterized by:

  • A well-organized but insufficiently detailed essay.
  • Addresses some, but not all, of the components of the instructions.
  • Paragraphs do not contain main topics.
  • A distracting number of errors in composition or spelling (i.e., more than two or three per page).
  • No articulation of scholarly interests.

2. Unofficial transcripts. Official transcripts will be requested prior to Graduate School admission.

3. Resume or CV.

4. Three letters of recommendation. We require recommendations from three (3) people who are qualified to evaluate the academic and professional competence of the applicants. When completing the online application, submit the names and emails of those requesting recommendation from; recommendations are sent electronically to your application.

5. Supporting document if required. Applicants who earned an undergraduate GPA below 3.00 or a graduate GPA below 3.5 should provide additional explanation/documentation to support their admission. In statement, explain why GPA does not accurately reflect high potential to serve in leadership roles. 

English proficiency requirements are required for international applicants. Test scores should be submitted to institution code 1846.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Named Option Requirements 

MODE OF INSTRUCTION

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes Yes No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

CURRICULAR REQUIREMENTS

Minimum Credit Requirement 75 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 51 out of 75 credits must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (https://registrar.wisc.edu/course-guide/).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements The Graduate School requires that students maintain a graduate grade-point average (GPA) of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) for all graduate courses (excluding research) to receive a degree. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.
Assessments and Examinations Doctoral students are required to take a comprehensive preliminary/oral examination after they have cleared their record of all Incomplete and Progress grades (other than research and thesis). Deposit of the doctoral dissertation in the Graduate School is required.
Language Requirements None.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements Doctoral students must complete a doctoral minor. See below for more information about the Minor requirement.

Required Coursework

Introduction to the Field6
These introductory courses lay the foundational framework for work in the department. The Doctoral Inquiry class, ELPA 810, is taken during the first semester of course work, and is required for all incoming Ph.D. students regardless of their area of interest. Students are strongly encouraged to take the second introductory course at the beginning of their studies as well.
ELPA 810
Doctoral Inquiry in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis
ELPA 701
Introduction to Higher and Post-Secondary Education
Core Knowledge12
The department believes that students in educational administration should be familiar with four program areas of knowledge: (1) Organizations and Planning; (2) Program and Instructional Leadership and Management; (3) Politics, Policy and Finance; and (4) Learning and Diversity.
Knowledge in each of these areas is focused on providing a theoretical and empirical research knowledge base to facilitate improvements in teaching and learning in educational organizations. Students should take one course from each program area. Students who have taken similar courses at other institutions and are transferring credits for those courses should take an advanced or related ELPA course in each area identified through consultation with their advisor.
Organizations and Planning (SELECT 1 COURSE)
Knowledge of classic and emerging theoretical approaches to organizations; Understanding and interpreting organizational experience; Decision making; Planning and evaluation; Key relationships between organizations and their environments.
ELPA 860
Organizational Theory and Behavior in Education
ELPA 875
Theory and Practice of Educational Planning
Program and Instructional Leadership and Management (SELECT 1 COURSE)
Leadership theory; Effective leadership; Functional, symbolic, political, and human aspects of leadership; Leading change; Conflict resolution; Empowerment; Sharing leadership; Motivation of self and others; Ethical and moral dimensions of leadership.
ELPA 715
Governance and Administration of Colleges and Universities
Politics, Policy and Finance (SELECT 1 COURSE)
Educational governance; Operating within a political environment; Understanding and interpreting political context; Principles of design and implementation of educational policies; Sources of revenues; Effective expenditure of educational dollars; Equity and adequacy issues.
ELPA 831
Financing Postsecondary Education
ELPA 841
Legal Aspects of Higher Education
ELPA 870
The Politics of Education
Learning and Diversity (SELECT 1 COURSE)
Addressing the diverse learning needs of students; Professional development; Managing academic program, curriculum and instruction to promote student learning; Administering learning and co-curricular activities to reflect students’ common and distinct experiential base.
ELPA 736
Administration of Student Services in Higher Education
ELPA 880
Academic Programs in Colleges and Universities
ELPA 887
Diversity and Inequality in Higher Education
Program Depth9
The department believes that students should have depth in at least one of the four program areas: (1) Organizations and Planning; (2) Program and Instructional Leadership and Management; (3) Politics, Policy and Finance; OR (4) Learning and Diversity. Therefore, the department requires that students in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis select 1 of the 4 domains and take at least 3 ADDITIONAL courses in that program area.
If courses from other departments are permitted in one of the depth areas, at least one of the three additional courses must be an ELPA course.
Organizations and Planning
ELPA 860
Organizational Theory and Behavior in Education
ELPA 875
Theory and Practice of Educational Planning
ELPA 940
Special Topics Seminar in Educational Leadership
M H R 872
Seminar in Organizational Behavior and Design
SOC 632
Sociology of Organizations
OTM 770
Sustainable Approaches to System Improvement
Program and Instructional Leadership and Management
ELPA 715
Governance and Administration of Colleges and Universities
ELPA 940
Special Topics Seminar in Educational Leadership
Politics, Policy, and Finance
ELPA 831
Financing Postsecondary Education
ELPA 841
Legal Aspects of Higher Education
ELPA 870
The Politics of Education
ELPA 965
Seminar in the Politics of Education
ELPA 940
Special Topics Seminar in Educational Leadership
ED POL 600
Problems in Educational Policy
ED POL/​ELPA/​PUB AFFR  765
Issues in Educational Policy Analysis
ECON 711
Economic Theory-Microeconomics Sequence
ECON 712
Economic Theory-Macroeconomics Sequence
ECON 741
Theory of Public Finance and Fiscal Policy
ECON 742
Theory of Public Finance and Fiscal Policy
PUB AFFR 869
Workshop in Public Affairs
PUB AFFR/​POLI SCI  871
Public Program Evaluation
PUB AFFR/​POLI SCI/​URB R PL  874
Policy-Making Process
PUB AFFR 974
Topics in Public Affairs
PUB AFFR 880
Microeconomic Policy Analysis
PUB AFFR/​A A E/​ENVIR ST/​POP HLTH  881
Benefit-Cost Analysis
PUB AFFR/​POLI SCI/​URB R PL  890
Federal Budget and Tax Policy and Administration
PUB AFFR 891
State and Local Government Finance
Learning and Diversity
ELPA 736
Administration of Student Services in Higher Education
ELPA 880
Academic Programs in Colleges and Universities
ELPA 881
Ideas of the University: Images of Higher Learning for the 21st Century
ELPA 882
Minority-Serving Institutions of Higher Education
ELPA 887
Diversity and Inequality in Higher Education
ELPA 888
Assessment in Higher Education
ELPA 940
Special Topics Seminar in Educational Leadership
Electives15
Students may take any five courses inside or outside of the Department, to provide depth or breadth to program focus. Students are reminded that their programs must include at least 39 credits taken from ELPA. Note that electives are separate from minor/supporting coursework.
Minor/Supporting Coursework12
The minor is a rational, unified set of courses taken outside of the department which have a clearly articulated theme or focus which allows the student to develop knowledge in a related area of study. Students may either pursue an option A (departmental minor in a SINGLE department outside of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis) or an option B-distributed (courses in two or more departments outside of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis) minor. The Option A minor requires a minimum of 9 credits; the Option B, 12 credits. Students interested in an Option A minor should initiate contact and seek approval from the minor department. Students electing the Option A minor must complete an additional 3 credits of course work outside of the department in order to satisfy the supporting coursework requirement for the department. At least two courses (6 credits) must be completed during or after the semester in which the student is admitted to the Ph.D. program.
Research Methods and Design12
Students must complete a sequence of courses in research methods and design, focusing on either quantitative or qualitative methods. Students choosing to focus on quantitative methods should take two statistical methods courses and one qualitative methods course. Students choosing to focus on qualitative methods should take two qualitative methods courses and one statistical methods course. After the methods requirement has been met, all students should take the research design course (ELPA 825). Substitutions for ELPA 825 are not allowed.
ELPA/​ED PSYCH  822
Introduction to Quantitative Inquiry in Education
Quantitative Methods
ELPA 823
Data Management for Education Policy Analysis
ELPA/​ED PSYCH  827
Surveys and Other Quantitative Data Collection Strategies
ELPA 964
ELPA 940
Special Topics Seminar in Educational Leadership
ED PSYCH 760
Statistical Methods Applied to Education I
ED PSYCH 761
Statistical Methods Applied to Education II
SOC/​C&E SOC  360
Statistics for Sociologists I
SOC/​C&E SOC  361
Statistics for Sociologists II
STAT 301
Introduction to Statistical Methods
STAT 302
Accelerated Introduction to Statistical Methods
Qualitative Methods
ELPA/​COUN PSY/​CURRIC/​ED POL/​ED PSYCH/​RP & SE  719
Introduction to Qualitative Research
ELPA/​COUN PSY/​CURRIC/​ED POL/​ED PSYCH/​RP & SE  788
Qualitative Research Methods in Education: Field Methods I
ELPA/​COUN PSY/​CURRIC/​ED POL/​ED PSYCH/​RP & SE  789
Qualitative Research Methods in Education: Field Methods II
ELPA 824
Field Research Designs & Methodologies in Educational Administratn
ELPA 940
Special Topics Seminar in Educational Leadership
ED POL/​C&E SOC/​SOC  755
Methods of Qualitative Research
CURRIC 718
Introduction to Narrative Inquiry
CURRIC 802
Discourse Analysis
Research Design
ELPA 825
Advanced Research Methods in Educational Administration
Thesis9
Students are required to complete a minimum of nine credits of research/thesis and/or independent reading. While nine credits is the minimum required, there is no maximum.
ELPA 990
Research or Thesis
ELPA 999
Independent Reading
Total Credits75

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Named Option-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 36 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 15 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison special student. If necessary to meet the Graduate School minimum graduate credit requirements for the degree, special student coursework may have to be converted to graduate credits.  Once converted, students are assessed the difference in tuition between special and graduate tuition.  Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements. More information here.

Probation

The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

ADVISOR / COMMITTEE

Every graduate student is required to have an advisor. An advisor is a faculty member, or sometimes a committee, from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies. An advisor generally serves as the thesis advisor. In many cases, an advisor is assigned to incoming students. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor.

To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects them to meet with their advisor on a regular basis.

A committee often accomplishes advising for the students in the early stages of their studies.

CREDITS PER TERM ALLOWED

15 credits

Time Constraints

Doctoral degree students who have been absent for ten or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may by require to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Any student who feels that they have been treated unfairly by a faculty or staff member has the right to complain about the treatment and to receive a prompt hearing of the grievance, following these grievance procedures. The complaint may concern course grades, classroom treatment, program admission, or other issues. To insure a prompt and fair hearing of any complaint, and to protect both the rights of the student and the person at whom the complaint is addressed, the procedures below are used in the School of Education.

The person whom the complaint is directed against must be an employee of the School of Education. Any student or potential student may use these procedures unless the complaint is covered by other campus rules or contracts. The following steps are available within the School of Education when a student has a grievance:

  1. The student should first talk with the person against whom the grievance is directed. Most issues can be settled at this level. If the complaint is directed against a teaching assistant, and the student is not satisfied, the next step would be to talk to the TA's supervisor, who is usually the course professor. If the complaint is not resolved satisfactorily, the student may continue to step 2.
  2. If the complaint does not involve an academic department, the procedure outlined in Step 4 below should be followed. If the complaint involves an academic department, the student should contact the chair of the department. The chair will attempt to resolve the problem informally. If this cannot be done to the student's satisfaction, the student may submit the grievance to the chair in writing. This must be done within 60 calendar days of the alleged unfair treatment.
  3. On receipt of a written complaint, the chair will refer the matter to a departmental committee, which will obtain a written response from the person at whom the complaint is directed. This response shall be shared with the person filing the grievance. The chair will provide a timely written decision to the student on the action taken by the committee.
  4. If either party is not satisfied with the decision of the department, they have five working days from receipt of the decision to contact the dean's office (at the number below), indicating the intention to appeal. If the complaint does not involve an academic department in the school, the student must contact the dean's office within 60 calendar days of the alleged unfair treatment.
  5. In either case, there will be an attempt to resolve the issue informally by the associate dean. If this cannot be done, the complaint can be filed in writing with the dean's office. This must be done within 10 working days of the time the appealing party was notified that informal resolution was unsuccessful.
  6. On receipt of such a written complaint, the associate dean will convene a subcommittee of the school's Equity & Diversity Committee. This subcommittee may ask for additional information from the parties involved and may hold a hearing at which both parties will be asked to speak separately. The subcommittee will then make a written recommendation to the dean of the School of Education who will render a decision. Unless a longer time is negotiated, this written decision shall be made within 20 working days from the date when the grievance was filed with the dean's office.

Questions about these procedures can be directed to the School of Education Dean's Office, 377 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1763.

State law contains additional provisions regarding discrimination and harassment. Wisconsin Statutes 36.12 reads, in part: "No student may be denied admission to, participation in or the benefits of, or be discriminated against in any service, program, course or facility of the system or its institutions or center because of the student's race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, disability, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status or parental status." In addition, UW–System prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. Students have the right to file discrimination and harassment complaints with the Office of Compliance, 361 Bascom Hall, 608-265-6018, uwcomplianceoffice@wisc.edu.

Other

n/a

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Faculty: Professor Jerlando Jackson (chair); Professors Conrad, Diamond, Halverson, Kelley, Mead, Miller, Underwood, Wang, Welton, Winkle-Wagner; Associate Professor Hillman; Assistant Professors Burt, Goff, McQuillan; Clinical Professors Crim, Sramek, Salzman