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PhD in Educational Studies, Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA)

The Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) program at The Ohio State University is one of the nation’s preeminent educational programs. Our rich heritage of research and practice, fueled by our renowned faculty, benefit students in the classroom and beyond. In fact, HESA has graduated distinguished scholars, presidents, provosts, deans and other leaders in higher education, the government, non-profit organizations and even the private sector.

Portrait of man in blue pullover in the hallways of Ramseyer Hall
"I knew that the HESA program, Educational Studies, and the College of Education and Human Ecology would be a space where I could be exposed to numerous opportunities and develop my scholar identity in the process."
- Antonio Duran
PhD, Higher Education and Student Affairs


The HESA doctoral program has prepared leaders for higher education and student affairs for more than six decades. This tradition is reflected in our numerous alumni, many of whom are senior leaders in the field. Our students, too, are recognized for their involvement and leadership in and out of the classroom. Above all, our comprehensive curriculum emphasizes rigorous research and professional development, which creates wonderful opportunities for learning, collaboration, and community-building.

Students can research a variety of topics in the HESA program. College students’ identity and identity development, organizational theory, policy and governance, service-learning and leadership are just some of the areas in which students can develop expertise.

Students take a variety of courses in the HESA program. Courses in college student development, law, policy and governance, organizational theory, administration of higher education, counseling, service-learning and leadership are among the offerings. You also take courses in qualitative and quantitative research methods.

The Student Personnel Assistantship Program (SPA) is a part of HESA. The SPA Program connects HESA students with assistantship opportunities across and even beyond Ohio State’s campus. Learn more about funding, interviews, and admissions processes.

Career Paths

The PhD in HESA prepare students for a variety of roles in and beyond higher education. These degrees enable students to work in colleges and universities, government, non-profits and even for-profit organizations as faculty members, administrators and policymakers, to name a few.

Our graduates have roles including program coordinators, program directors, consultants, policy analysts, faculty members, vice presidents for student affairs, provosts and even college presidents. You can read alumni profiles or browse our newsletters to learn more about our graduates.


Deadline to Apply: 
December 1
Program Start: 
Autumn semester
Prerequisites/Pre-major Requirements: 
Master's degree
Minimum Program Hours: 
66, post master’s degree

Coursework: College student development, higher education institutions and academic issues, college impact, higher education law, diversity in higher education
Other requirements: professional internship, research apprenticeship, dissertation
PDF iconHESA PhD handbook – 2019-2020

View the Curriculum Sheet


Amy Barnes, EdD, Clinical Associate Professor
Rebecca Crandall, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor
Marc P. Johnston-Guerrero, PhD, Associate Professor
Susan Robb Jones, PhD, Professor
Matthew Mayhew, PhD, Flesher Professor
Kristen J. Mills, PhD, Assistant Professor
Anne-Marie Nunez, PhD, Professor
Penny Pasque, PhD, Professor
Lori Patton Davis, PhD, Professor, Educational Studies Chair
Stephen John Quaye, PhD, Associate Professor
Tatiana Suspitsyna, PhD, Associate Professor

Affiliate Faculty
Kristina M. Johnson, PhD, President, The Ohio State University