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Howard University Graduate School

HUGS Research Magazine
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Graduate School Offers New Ph.D. Program in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies


The Graduate School is offering a new Ph.D. program in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies (HELPS). HELPS is a 72 credit hour program that is designed to prepare the next generation of educational leaders for the staffing, administration, and management positions for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). To this end, one function of the HELPS program is to prepare scholars to serve in capacities of leadership (e.g., college presidents, provosts, and vice presidents) at MSIs. Coursework will cover responsibilities associated with the college and university presidency, fundraising in higher education, board and community relations, accreditation, contemporary issues in higher education, and ethics in decision-making. Course related activities (e.g., guest lectures and workshops from MSI presidents and other administrative leaders) will provide students with salient insight into effective higher education leadership for MSIs in general and HBCUs specifically. Another feature of this program will be the collaborative opportunities with policy and higher education organizations in the Washington, D.C. area. Students will have opportunities to engage policymakers and practitioners while identifying the relationship between education policy and higher education operations.

The HELPS program will also prepare students to become policy advocates for MSIs. Currently, when critical policy conversations occur in educational contexts, few individuals have a thorough background on MSIs, limiting their ability to discuss how policy impacts these institutions. This was particularly evident after changes were made to the Parent PLUS loan. Once promulgated, many first-generation, low-income students, a population serviced by HBCUs, were forced to drop out of college. Student dropout rates had a devastating impact on the financial stability of many HBCUs, particularly small private HBCUs. In addition to the identification of the two critical foci (i.e., leadership development and policy advocacy), the HELPS program will prepare students for other careers in higher education (i.e., faculty members and researchers).

The HELPS program has been endorsed by prominent higher education policy and leadership organizations, including:

  • •   U.S Department of Education;
  • •   The United Negro College Fund;
  • •   White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities;
  • •   American Council on Education;
  • •   American Public-Land Grant Universities;
  • •   National Association for Equity Opportunity in Higher Education
  • •   Excelencia

Program Requirements

  • •   Evidence of an earned Master's Degree in Higher Education, Student Affairs or a closely related field from an accredited institution of higher education
  • •   Official transcripts of all academic work completed at other regionally accredited institutions of higher education, and a GPA of 3.3 or better on all postgraduate study beyond the baccalaureate degree
  • •   Official results of national entrance examinations such as GRE (verbal and quantitative sections), the MAT or the GMAT
  • •   Written statement outlining applicant's background in higher education, specific career goals in higher education, how achieving a PhD through Howard University's program will assist in accomplishing those career goals
  • •   A current resume or curriculum vita, documenting professional experiences. Applicants are expected to have a minimum of 3 years of professional experience working in a college/university setting, or related professional experience that would allow applicant to understand the context and general environment of higher education
  • •   Samples of professional writing, including publications and research proposal abstracts.
  • •   Personal interview with ELPS faculty
  • •   Three letters of recommendations (two of which should come from a professor who can speak to your potential for success in a PhD program).

Transfer Credit

Transfer credit for the HELPS program will be handled on a case-to-case basis, and will be decided by the student's advisor in consultation with the program coordinator.

Funding and Support for Graduate Students:

The deadline for funding consideration was December 1, 2016. The final deadline for all applicants is January 15, 2017. In addition, the HELPS program has partnerships with several prominent higher education leadership and policy organizations in the Washington, DC area. These organizations will provide a select number of students with graduate assistantship opportunities:

  • •   American Council on Education
  • •   United Negro College Fund
  • •   Excelencia
  • •   The Education Trust

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