Click here to go back to the home page Click on this link to view the screenreader friendly and text only version of this website

Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership

National Louis University’s dynamic doctoral and specialist programs in higher education leadership are:

-A community of practitioner-scholars. We take seriously the idea that faculty, students, and staff must work together to contribute to each other’s learning and foster a supportive environment for professional development. Our faculty and staff model outstanding practice as administrators, educators, scholars, writers, and leaders, and invite students into their work for practical experience.  We value the rich experiences and content expertise that students bring with them and student talents and lived experiences greatly enhance the learning of our learning community (faculty and students alike). Additionally, students and faculty join together for regular professional, social, and scholarly activities, culminating in our annual Research Colloquium Weekend.

 -Designed for working professionals. Our faculty understand that your post-graduate studies are only a part of your life, and the programs are designed to fit within your busy schedule of work, family, and other important commitments.

 -Practical and purposeful. Every step of the way, our curriculum and optional co-curricular experiences are thoughtfully developed to dovetail with your career. We strive to help you integrate your work and life experiences into our class discussions/assignments, and at the same time, to make sure our classes are immediately useful in your daily work as a postsecondary leader. We don’t do ‘busywork,’ and your writing in each class can be applied directly toward your capstone/dissertation.

 -Uniquely oriented toward advancing educational and social justice. NLU started in the 1800s as a school to train teachers and advance access to education for the underserved members of our community. Today, our program lives into that mission in the modern era. We care about helping you achieve your goals for your institution and community, and have more than a century’s experience preparing justice-oriented educators for influential and groundbreaking careers.

 -Excellently efficient. We care deeply about helping you achieve your goals, including your goal for a timely degree. Our specialist program is typically completed in just a year and a half. Continue on for as little as another year and earn your doctorate. We can offer such an efficient path by thoughtfully including capstone/dissertation planning and writing in each course along the way, and by pairing you with an expert faculty advisor from orientation to graduation. As a result, our students hit the ground running and are always spending time purposefully as they work toward their degrees. In fact, most of our students earn both the education specialist and doctoral degrees. You can do this, too, without any added cost, or time, or effort on your part.

 -Flexible while maintaining quality. We firmly believe in the potential of modern education options offered by 21st-century technology. Differently from other institutions, though, we also work to be the leading innovators in hybrid and online graduate education. Our programs are offered in both a fully-online format, and an Executive Cohort option (mostly online, with one Saturday professional residency day per month). Either way, students work with the same faculty, in the same rigorous curriculum, with the same ability to connect and participate with a diverse, welcoming group of colleagues.

 -Supportive, collegial, and kind. Our faculty - including experienced leaders, higher education practitioners, and expert researchers - come together to provide wraparound support for your entire experience within the program. These faculty include nationally-recognized scholars and deeply-networked professionals who will help you achieve your career goals both during and after your time with us. These world-class professors are elite without being elitist. When you become a higher education leadership student, you join a true community of practitioner-scholars, including our students, faculty, and administrators, who work together to support one another’s learning, share resources, and collaborate every step of the way. In fact, students continuously tell us our flexible, kind, approachable-yet-expert faculty are the biggest factors in their overall satisfaction with our higher education leadership programs.

Program Vision:

The Higher Education Leadership program lives into the founding mission of National Louis University by preparing students to advance educational justice in their communities through ethical, mission-oriented leadership in modern postsecondary institutions. Our students use data to respond to challenges, celebrate achievements, and contribute to higher education as a social institution for the public good.


  • How to advance higher education as a common good by identifying and crafting solutions for urgent, contemporary institutional issues.
  • How to assess critical issues and challenges related to leading mission-driven, student-centered higher education institutions (HEIs) and/or their functions in the increasingly dynamic and competitive environment.
  • How to identify data needs, select appropriate empirical approaches and engage in research related to solving complex issues with multiple stakeholders.
  • Engagement in collaborative, evidence-based practices to create, lead, manage and grow programs and initiatives designed to advance the institutional mission and goals.
  • How to contribute to efficient educational leadership and management of various functions of a HEI, including academic affairs, faculty development, student services, enrollment management, record management, academic technology, quality assurance and other operational areas through action research.
  • Integration of theories of student development, teaching and learning, leadership, governance, assessment and continuous improvement into professional practice.

The program is available in an executive blended model and as an online program with limited weekend and virtual residencies. The format of the program encourages the formation of strong learning communities for networking and practice, and enables participants to apply new knowledge immediately to professional and classroom settings.

  • Online—fully online courses, with three weekend residencies in Years 2 and 3 of the program. Residencies are offered in Chicago, Tampa and virtually, in a synchronous web-based conference format.
  • Executive Cohort—in each ten-week quarter, students meet for a total of three Saturdays (approximately once per month), with the rest of course requirements completed online. Three weekend residencies in Years 2 and 3 of the program are also required. This format is offered in Chicago and Tampa.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for Postsecondary Education Administrators was $88,390 (2014), with faster than average job growth projections of 9% through 2024. The median annual pay for Postsecondary Teachers was $70,790 (2014), with faster than average job growth projections of 13%.

As a private, non-profit institution, NLU has a long-standing reputation for its education and administrator training programs, and is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Since 1886, we've trained thousands of Chicago-area and Florida teachers and administrators, and continue to graduate the majority of Illinois' Golden Apple Award winners—one of the most prestigious teacher honors in the state. Our instructors bring both academic skills and their extensive leadership experience to the classroom, providing unique depth to NLU’s doctoral programs.

The Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership offers many advantages over other programs.

  • Practitioner Doctorate with an emphasis on application.
  • Progressive online and executive formats meeting the needs of today's professional.
  • Designed to be completed in under 11 quarters (three years with continuous enrollment and recommended course load).
  • Capstone project work integrated into course load.
  • Graduates of any Master's program welcomed.

NLU also offers students an opportunity to earn an alternative/concurrent Education Specialist in Higher Education Leadership (Ed.S.) degree. Students may be admitted concurrently into the Ed.D./Ed.S. program and credit earned in the Higher Educations Leadership Ed.S. program may be applied without limitation to the full doctoral Higher Education Leadership program.

For more information about enrolling at any of our locations including Florida, connect with an Enrollment Specialist or Apply for Free today.

All applicants must meet NLU's general admission requirements as well as additional requirements specific to the Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership program. Refer to the appropriate Application Checklist available online at

Get more information today about enrolling in one of NLU's degree programs. Connect with an Enrollment Specialist or call 888.NLU.TODAY (888-658-8632).


    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Established in 1988 and located in one of Tampa's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to its classrooms, the National Louis University Tampa Regional Center features a computer lab, student lounges, and conference room.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
    Info » | Directions »