Program Overview

Iowa State University has a rich tradition of preparing scholars and leaders in the field of higher education. The School of Education offers a Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in Higher Education. Our aim is to create and support an intellectual climate that fosters collective engagement with the research, scholarship, policies, and practices that shape postsecondary education in the United States and abroad. Through formal academic courses and other opportunities in the field, we encourage deep understanding of and active participation in various higher education contexts. These contexts include doctoral research universities, master’s and baccalaureate colleges, community colleges, and other postsecondary specialized institutions and organizations – both public and private.


Faculty in higher education draw upon a range of methodological traditions and theoretical orientations in their inquiry of pressing questions in the field, ranging from the ways institutional policies and practices effect student outcomes and campus climates to the use of social media as a tool for student learning to supports for students of color in STEM fields in community colleges, four-year institutions, and graduate education. Faculty have received research support from leading granting agencies, including the National Science Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, Lumina Foundation, Spencer Foundation, and U.S. Department of Education, and published in leading scholarly journals, including:

  • Community College Journal of Research and Practice
  • Community College Review
  • Computers and Education
  • Equity & Excellence in Education
  • Journal of College Student Development
  • Journal of Diversity in Higher Education
  • Journal of Higher Education
  • Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice
  • Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
  • Research in Higher Education
  • Review of Higher Education
  • Teachers College Record

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Doug Smith

901 Stange Rd
Ames, IA, 50011-1041