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

Higher Education Academics

The EdD Higher Education Academics specialization is intended for individuals who will teach and/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. 

Course Offerings

The doctoral course of study features a combination of face-to-face and online courses. As such, it is considered an on-campus program which blends both formats of instruction. 

Students enter the doctoral program each fall semester as a full-time or a part-time student.

Courses are offered in a regular, predictable rotation as much as possible. Core courses are offered at least once each year. At a minimum, all other courses are offered every other year. During the summer, courses are offered based on student needs.

The Graduate Course Rotation depicts a working schedule of course offerings and delivery methods.

Program Flow

After acceptance, the student will be assigned a temporary advisor and should then meet with his/her assigned advisor. During the first semester, students will complete the 3-credit 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, the student will 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, the student will 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, the student will take 3-credit hours of  Dissertation Seminar (EDU 650) to begin preparation of the proposal. During the proposal preparation, the student will work closely with his/her chair and the readers of the committee with progress being made each semester. The student then presents/defends 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 majority of the committee should be made up of faculty from the degree-granting department. The chair and one other approved member must be from the Adult & 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. For information regarding graduate representatives, please refer to the Graduate School policy.


The student should carefully select his/her graduate committee chair after thorough conversations with the approved Adult & Higher Education faculty members that he/she believes might have an interest in their doctoral research agenda and/or the ability to work with them toward generating a defensible dissertation. 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: http://www.montana.edu/gradschool/policy/degreq_doctoral.html. 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 will complete a written and oral comprehensive exam. The exam is completed in writing and then orally defended in front of the entire Graduate Committee. Through the comprehensive exam, students will be expected to demonstrate:

  • a competency in the breadth of knowledge covered in their coursework
  • the ability to integrate concepts from courses into a holistic viewpoint
  • the ability to apply material to anticipated real life situations based on the theoretical principles and concepts covered in classes
  • the ability to critically read, analyze, and critique research
  • a readiness to move forward to create their own research

Generally, there will be four primary question areas:

  • Specialization area
  • Foundation of Higher Education
  • Research
    • Read, analyze, and critique a research article
    • 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)

However, these areas may be revised according to individual programs.

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 with the following exception: only fourteen (14) credits of dissertation are required. 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: http://www.montana.edu/gradschool/policy/degreq_doctoral.html and Department of Education degree requirements listed on each of the three program's websites and in the Graduate Student Handbook.

Department of Education Resources:

Contact Information

Dr. Bryce Hughes, Program Leader and Associate Professor
Phone: 406-994-6419 Email: [email protected]

Dr. Carrie Myers, Professor
Phone: 406-994-4203 Email: [email protected]

Dr. Sweeney Windchief, Associate Professor
Phone: 406-994-3339 Email: [email protected]