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Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership

Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership

Offered as a joint program through the National College of Education (NCE) and College of Professional Studies and Advancement (CPSA), the Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership is a professional doctorate. It addresses a variety of topic areas directly related to the complex operation of today's colleges and universities.

The Higher Education Leadership program prepares graduates to serve as administrative and faculty leaders who advance educational and social justice. We emphasize mission-driven leadership, data-driven and research-informed practice, and student-centered outcomes. The program can be completed in just under three years, with doctoral capstone (dissertation) work integrated into coursework, so students may connect theory to practice right away and graduate in a timely manner.

Consider getting your doctorate in Higher Education Leadership at National Louis University (NLU) if you:

  • Are an administrative professional who wishes to advance into a leadership role or advance in your current leadership position.
  • Are a faculty member who holds an in-field master’s degree and are looking to advance to graduate teaching and academic leadership.
  • Work in a related field and are interested in making a career change to higher education.
  • Are interested in applied research and immediate application of knowledge to professional practice.
  • Have an interest in all facets of state-affiliated, nonprofit, and for-profit college and university operations and learning how to measure, evaluate and advance student and institution outcomes.

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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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