Frequently Asked Questions About Admission to the PhD Program

How do I submit my application?

All application materials must be submitted through Kent State University’s admissions portal. Please do not send application materials by email to the program coordinator or program faculty members; we can only consider you for admission if you have submitted a complete application through the admissions website.

KSU’s Admissions website (be sure to choose “Graduate” as your application type) has many helpful resources including the opportunity to connect with a current KSU graduate student and resource guides and webinars on the application process.

When do I need to submit my application materials?

If you are seeking a graduate assistantship: You must submit your completed application by December 1, for admission the following fall. (So for example, if you wish to begin your studies in fall 2024, you must submit your completed application by December 1, 2023.) If we receive your application after December 1, we cannot guarantee that we can review it in time for you to participate in our assistantship placement process if you are admitted. (And if you don’t participate in the placement process, you won’t be placed in an assistantship.) Note that assistantship placements are aligned with Kent State’s academic calendar, beginning in late August and ending in mid-May. Therefore, all applicants seeking assistantships should apply for fall admission; if you are admitted for the spring or summer semester, you will not be eligible for placement in an assistantship until the next academic year.

If you are NOT seeking a graduate assistantship: We accept applications on a rolling basis. However, at a minimum, you should submit your completed application at least two months before the start of the semester in which you wish to begin your studies to ensure we have sufficient time to review it. Note that we do not review Ph.D. applications over the summer (May-August) as our faculty members are not on contract during this time. Therefore, all applications for fall admission (for those not seeking graduate assistantship placement) must be submitted by April 1, to ensure we will be able to review your application prior to summer.

How do I obtain a graduate assistantship?

Students who are admitted to the Ph.D. program are eligible to participate in our annual graduate assistantship placement process, known as GA Days, which takes place once per year in early spring. If you are admitted to the program, we will contact you about participating in GA Days. During GA Days, you will have the opportunity to interview with our assistantship employers. (International applicants may participate in interviews with graduate assistantship employers virtually.) Note that participation in GA Days is not a guarantee you will be placed in an assistantship; placements are competitive, and not all admitted students receive a placement. If you wish to be considered for a graduate assistantship, you must submit your application by December 1, each year for admission the following fall semester, to ensure we have sufficient time to review your application prior to GA Days.

The graduate assistantship is a 20 hour/week practicum that gives you additional paraprofessional experience working within a higher education unit. Assistantships come with a stipend, some provide tuition remission or other benefits, and they are available at a variety of higher education institutions across Northeast Ohio with whom we have partnerships (international students are required to have their assistantship placement at Kent State). Note that assistantship placements are aligned with Kent State’s academic calendar, beginning in late August and ending in mid-May.

How do I request a waiver of the application fee?

Kent State University does not grant application fee waivers for applicants to graduate programs. However, the University usually offers a Free Application Week during the fall when application fees are waived for domestic applicants (unfortunately, international applicants are not eligible for Free Application Week). In fall 2023, the dates will be October 23-30, 2023. Be sure to check KSU’s Admissions website for more information.

Do I need to submit GRE scores as part of my application for admission to the Ph.D. program?

No, we no longer require any applicants to the PhD program to submit GRE scores. More information about requirements for admission to our PhD program is available in the Kent State catalog.

Do I need to submit official transcripts as part of my application for admission to the Ph.D. program?

Yes, all applicants to the PhD program must submit official transcripts; Kent State University does not accept unofficial transcripts for admissions. More information about graduate admission requirements is available at the Admissions graduate student requirements website. (See the section labeled “Transcript Policy.”)

What should I write about in my goal statement?

Your goal statement should address why you’re interested in completing a Ph.D. in higher education administration at Kent State University. Questions to consider as you’re writing your statement include: How will completing a Ph.D. in higher education administration advance your professional goals? How is our Ph.D. program at Kent State, specifically, aligned with your goals? What do you hope to gain, personally and professionally, from completing our Ph.D. program? What research topics are you interested in investigating through the dissertation, and how will the coursework in our program prepare you to conduct that research? What impact do you aspire to have on the field of higher education administration, and how will completing our PhD program help you realize that impact? Be sure to carefully proofread your goal statement before submitting it.

Can I complete the Ph.D. program online?

No, we do not offer an online Ph.D. program. Although some courses may be offered in online or hybrid (i.e., partially online and partially in-person) formats, most courses are offered in-person only. If you are admitted to the program, you must be able to attend in-person classes to complete the degree.

What courses will I take in the Ph.D. program?

Our Ph.D. program in Higher Education Administration requires the completion of at least eight core courses, five elective courses, and five research methods courses; some students may also need to complete up to four prerequisite courses. In addition, students must complete a minimum of two semesters of dissertation credits. Our plan of study provides details about course requirements for the program.

Can I complete a certificate in addition to the Ph.D.?

The Higher Education Administration program offers five certificate options for Ph.D. students: Career and Academic Advising, College Teaching, Community College Leadership, Institutional Research & Assessment, and Internationalization of Higher Education. Many students in the program choose to complete at least one of these certificates as a way to document their interest and expertise in a specific area of higher education, and the courses you take for the Ph.D. and our certificates can be double-counted, making them easy to complete without much, if any, additional coursework. More information about these certificate programs is available on our Higher Education Administration program website as well as in the Kent State catalog. Additionally, Ph.D. student can complete certificate programs offered by other programs in the College of Education, Health and Human Services; a popular one is the Qualitative Research certificate.

What financial aid opportunities are available?

Ph.D. students are eligible for general Kent State scholarships based on merit and financial need as well as awards and fellowships specific to graduate students. In addition, the Higher Education Administration program offers several scholarships specifically for current and admitted students; eligibility and application requirements for these vary, with some based on interests and some based on financial need. If you are placed in a graduate assistantship, it may come with full tuition remission or a partial tuition stipend (benefits vary by placement).

Can I complete the Ph.D. program as a part-time student?

Yes, many of our Ph.D. students are working full-time in the field of higher education and attend courses part-time. Our plan of study provides details about course requirements for the program. If you are working full-time, we recommend taking no more than two courses per semester. Note that Kent State University allows a maximum of 10 years to complete a Ph.D. degree (including coursework, comprehensive examination, and dissertation).

Can I take courses during the summer to complete my Ph.D. degree?

The Higher Education Administration program offers a limited selection of courses during the summer, many of which are electives. Our course projections will give you an idea of which courses we plan to offer in future summer sessions. Additionally, some of the required and elective research courses are offered during the summer. In consultation with your advisor, you may be able to take courses in other academic programs at Kent State or other area institutions during the summer if they are aligned with your academic and professional goals.

I’m an international applicant. Do I need to provide proof of English proficiency?

Information about Kent State University’s English proficiency requirements and exemptions is available at the Admissions English Language Proficiency website.

Should I reach out to, or secure the commitment of, a program faculty member prior to submitting my application?

No, all applications to our Ph.D. program are reviewed by our full program faculty, and we place admitted students with a faculty advisor at the time of admission based on faculty member availability and interest. We do not have research groups or require a faculty member’s prior commitment for admission. Sending your admission materials to individual members of our faculty will not improve your chances of admission to the program, and we can only consider you for admission if you have submitted a complete application through Kent State University’s Admissions portal.

Can I receive feedback from the program coordinator about my chances for admission prior to submitting my application?

No, because all applications to our Ph.D. program are reviewed by our full program faculty, the program coordinator cannot provide an assessment of your chances of admission prior to applying. We can only consider you for admission after your completed application has been submitted through Kent State University’s admissions portal. Information about program admission requirements is available on our Ph.D. program website as well as in the Kent State catalog.

Can I apply to the Ph.D. program if I only hold a bachelor’s degree?

No, applicants whose highest degree completed is a bachelor’s degree should apply to our master’s program. Applicants to the Ph.D. program must have completed, or be near completion of, a master's degree from an accredited college or university. More information about requirements for admission to our Ph.D. program is available in the Kent State catalog.

I’m an international applicant. Do I need to provide proof of English proficiency?

Information about Kent State University’s English proficiency requirements and exemptions is available at the Admissions' English Language Proficiency website.