Doctor of Education in Adult & Higher Education

Program Objectives

At the Doctor of Education level, the Adult and Higher Education program offers two specializations:

Higher Education Academics

The EdD Higher Education Academics specialization is intended for individuals who will teach or provide academic leadership and support in the area of college teaching and learning within a diverse range of post-secondary settings. Individuals pursuing this option may hold a Master's degree within higher education or another discipline in which they will teach or provide academic leadership.

Higher Education Administration 

The EdD in Higher Education Administration specialization is intended for individuals who will contribute to the administrative leadership and support within a range of diverse post-secondary settings. The primary objective of the degree is to produce informed scholarly practitioners for mid- to upper-level management or administrative positions. These individuals typically manage or direct either academic or student affairs operational functions. 

Program Flow

After acceptance, students are assigned a temporary advisor and should then meet with their assigned advisor. During the first semester, students complete the Doctoral Seminar (EDU 600). Coursework will be based on the student's previous academic work and advisor/committee approval. By the third semester of enrollment, students identify a graduate committee chair and committee members, establish and submit their program of study to the Graduate School, and clarify plans for the comprehensive examination. 

Near the end of completing course requirements, students write the comprehensive exam and will later meet with the committee for the oral defense of the comprehensive exam. If deemed necessary by the committee, the student may be required to take additional coursework to make up identified deficiencies. Toward the end of the program, students take 3-credit hours of  Dissertation Seminar (EDU 650) to begin preparation of the proposal. During the proposal preparation, students work closely with their chair and the readers of the committee with progress being made each semester. Students then present/defend their proposal, which includes the study introduction, literature review, and research methodology. The student conducts the research and writes the dissertation, with progress being made each semester toward completion. When the committee chair determines the student is ready, the student defends the dissertation.


Each doctoral student's committee must consist of at least four approved members. The chair and one other approved member must be from the Adult and Higher Education faculty. Two other approved members will be selected based upon their ability to contribute to the student's studies leading up to and through the dissertation research. These two committee members must have academic credentials in the area of the student's program of study and be approved by the Head of the Department of Education and Dean of The Graduate School.


Students should carefully select their graduate committee chair after thorough conversations with the Adult and Higher Education faculty members who have expertise in the dissertation topic and can support the student to completion. The chair will give strong leadership and approval regarding the balance of the committee's potential membership. The committee, as a whole, is subject to the approval of the Head of the Department of Education. The chair will facilitate program approval, comprehensive exam planning and clarification, proposal hearing, and dissertation defense. The chair and two other committee members will be the primary "readers" of the dissertation as it is being written. The importance of selecting the right chair cannot be overstated. However, chairs and members of a student's committee are subject to change. In addition, revision to the program of study can be made during the course of study with the chair's approval.

Comprehensive Examinations

Comprehensive examinations are required for completion of all graduate degrees at Montana State University. Students are expected to demonstrate mastery of the program of study and the ability to interact with the research in that area. Students should refer to The Graduate School's web page at: and the Department of Education Graduate Handbook at for more detailed information on comprehensive exams.

The comprehensive exams must be completed by the posted Graduate School deadlines.

Near the end of completing coursework and before the dissertation proposal defense, EdD students complete a written and oral comprehensive exam. The exam is completed in writing and then orally defended in front of the entire Graduate Committee. Generally, there are three primary question areas: 

  1. Specialization area
  2. Foundation of Higher Education
  3. Research
    • Design a project - will be expected to demonstrate a mastery of aspects of both qualitative and quantitative projects (such as sampling, validity, reliability, and data analysis).
    • These areas may be revised according to individual programs.

Mode of Course Delivery

Doctoral level courses in Adult and Higher Education are offered in a variety of modalities including face-to-face in-person courses, synchronous and asynchronous online learning, and a combination of both.

Contact Information

Dr. Bryce Hughes, Associate Professor and Program Leader

Dr. Carrie Myers, Professor

Dr. Sweeney Windchief, Assistant Professor

Additional Doctor of Education Requirements

The Doctor of Education degree must meet the minimum requirements in the For Doctoral Students section on The Graduate School's website.  Additional requirements for the EdD degree beyond these minimums are available through the Department of Education. All EdD degree candidates are expected to be familiar with both The Graduate School's degree requirements listed here: and Department of Education degree requirements listed on each of the three program's websites.

Application Process for the Doctor of Education in Adult & Higher Education 

Applicants are required to complete the online application and submit the following documentation via the Graduate School Online Application SystemPrior to applying to the Adult and Higher Education doctoral program applicants must hold a Master's degree.

  1. Completed Graduate School Application
  2. Academic Transcripts: Applicants must provide official transcripts verifying all Bachelors degree and Masters degree coursework (as well as confirmation of bachelor’s and master's degree earned) from the applicant's certifying university. Unofficial transcripts may be uploaded during the application process. Official electronic transcripts may be emailed directly from the Institution to or  Transcripts may also be mailed to the Department of Education Graduate Programs Office, 215 Reid Hall, PO Box 172880, Montana State University, 59717. Transcripts from a degree awarded through MSU do not need to be provided. NOTE: We require an undergraduate and graduate GPA of at least 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale). Transcripts will be evaluated for rigor and academic fit. 
  3. Personal Essay: Suggested length is 2-3 pages, double-spaced. The applicant should briefly describe the following:
    1. Background
    2. Prior professional and leadership experience
    3. Why the interest in the EdD program
    4. How the applicant plans to use the degree
  4. Writing Sample: Please upload a selected example of writing that demonstrates academic potential such as an artifact that highlights your interests, strengths, context and goals/desires more conducive to holistic review.
  5. Three (3) professional references: The letters should be from individuals qualified to assess the following:
    1. Applicant's ability and potential as a graduate student  
    2. Attest to the applicants work ethic and professionalism
    3. References from relatives are not acceptable
  6. Resume/Curriculum vitae
  7. For International Applicants ONLY: Please visit the Graduate School International Application Process website for application submission information.

Application Deadline

Below is the deadline by which all application materials for the EdD in Adult & Higher Education must be submitted via the online application system. Students matriculate into the EdD program in the fall semester only. Applications to the EdD programs are reviewed once per year at the April 1st deadline. Applications received after the deadline may be reviewed for acceptance on a case-by-case basis.

  • Fall Semester:  April 1st

* An early review deadline of February 1st has been set for those applicants wanting to be considered for Graduate Assistantships. Applications must be complete for an early review. A student must be accepted to an education program before requesting a Department of Education Graduate Assistantship.  Graduate Assistantships require students to work on campus 19 hours per week.  For further information regarding teaching assistantships visit webpage:

Admission Process

Complete applications will be reviewed by members of the Graduate Admissions Committee who then convene to make final admission decisions. Once a decision has been made the application will be forwarded to The Graduate School for final administrative processing.  Please note that the application review process will begin on the application deadline date and not before. We strongly suggest that doctoral applicants contact faculty with whom their planned research would align.  This will assist us in identifying an appropriate advisor for program applicants and provide us an opportunity to get to know about you.  E-mail addresses of our professors are listed on the Faculty and Staff Directory:

Contact Information

Graduate Program Assistant
PO Box 172880, Reid Hall 215
Department of Education, Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717-2880 
Phone: 406-994-6786 Email: