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The Higher Education Division (HED) provides students with a broad understanding of higher education and of the most successful practices of campus management. Our distinguished faculty focus their research on access and equity; diversity and higher education; policy and public financing; civic engagement; organizational change; and the impact of the marketplace on colleges and universities. They are actively engaged with such organizations as the American Education Research Organization, the National Clearinghouse Research Center, the Higher Education Policy Institute, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, and the Council of Europe. Their research, supported by grants from the Institute of Education Science, the Lumina Foundation for Education, the American Educational Research Association, the Kresge Foundation, and the National Academy of Education, appears regularly in the American Education Research Journal, Research in Higher Education, Educational Researcher, Academe, Journal of Higher Education, Review of Higher Education, and other prestigious journals.
Programs focus on higher education administration with specialized electives in policy, finance, law, fundraising and development, and organizational theory. Students are prepared for careers as leaders at colleges and universities and as scholars of higher education.
The Higher Education division offers a complete set of degree programs: a master's degree, a traditional format Ed.D. for early and mid-career professionals, and a Ph.D. in the Higher Education program as well as an executive format Ed.D. for senior academic leaders through our Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management.
Students have additional opportunities to participate in faculty research through a number of research projects as well as through the work of four organizations at Penn GSE:
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
More about this ProgramThe Ph.D. in Higher Education prepares students for an academic career in the field of higher education. The program is highly individualized and students work closely with their academic advisor to draw from courses from the division and from other areas on campus that relate to their area of inquiry. Through coursework and a research assistantship with their advisor, students develop the skills they need to conduct quality primary research in higher education.
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
More about this ProgramThe Ed.D. in Higher Education is aimed at preparing practitioner-scholars, professionals who wish to use research to make a difference in the lives of students and colleges and universities by focusing on pressing problems of practice. Ed.D. students attain a broad comprehension of higher education through completion of courses that convey core knowledge and facilitate their understanding of research, which prepares them to complete their dissertation.
Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management (Ed.D.)More about this Program
The Executive Ed.D. in Higher Education Management provides a leadership curriculum designed especially for senior-level higher education leaders through an innovative format designed to meet the needs of working professionals.
Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.)
More about this ProgramThe M.S.Ed. in Higher Education consists of 9 course units and may be completed in one academic year of full-time study. The program is designed for people who are in the early stages of their higher education careers and seek a better understanding of how the enterprise of higher education is structured, governed, financed, and managed. M.S.Ed. students range from recent college graduates to career-changers to young professionals with a few years’ experience in higher education.
Dr. Shaun Harper’s new report, Succeeding in the City, addresses this critical question. Published through his Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education, the report unveils the results of Harper's New York City Black and Latino Male High School Achievement Study.
Exec Doc in Higher Education Management alumnus Thomas Bullock believes that one caring adult in student's life can forever change the course of their future. For the past two decades, Bullock has been that caring adult for more than two dozen students at The Georgetown Institute of College Preparation. Nearly every one of his students goes on to graduate high school and pursue to higher education.
Students in Dr. Marybeth Gasman’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) class are doing their best to change the future of higher education—especially the future of Morris Brown College in Atlanta. And along the way they’re writing a book about the contemporary issues facing these institutions.
The U.S. must close persistent gaps in educational attainment among families from different income levels in order to remain globally competitive, but the growing reliance on student loans to pay the costs of higher education carries important downsides, according to a recent editorial in "The Hill" by Higher Education Division Chair and Penn AHEAD Director Dr. Laura Perna. The op-ed outlines key individual and economic consequences of the increasing reliance on student loans, and provides evidence-supported recommendations for federal policymakers.
While many look to the federal government for providing financial aid to increase college access, states are responsible for the lion's share of policies for raising the educational attainment of their populations. An article in "Inside Sources" by Professors Laura Perna and Joni Finney of the Penn GSE Higher Education Division stresses the need for state policy leadership, drawing from their in-depth examination of state policies presented in their 2014 book The Attainment Agenda: State Policy Leadership for Higher Education.
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"I chose Penn GSE because I fell in love when I came to my first information session. The environment was welcoming and the people were friendly. I felt very at home and I knew this was where I had to be!"
Our students are prepared for careers as leaders at colleges and universities and as scholars of higher education.