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College of Education

College of Education
006 Bluemont Hall
1114 Mid-Campus Drive North
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506

785-532-7304 fax

Student Affairs in Higher Education Doctorate (Ph.D.)

The Student Affairs in Higher Education doctoral program is designed for educators, administrators, direct service providers, and leaders who seek to enhance their knowledge and professional skills to assume positions in institutions of higher education or in education-related agencies. This Ph.D. program is for advanced students who desire to contribute to the knowledge base of higher education and leadership through a thorough grounding in research. The program emphasizes professional practice in higher education guided and informed by theory and research.

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Course Delivery: Manhattan Campus; most of the courses available Online
Credits: 90 hours post baccalaureate
Tuition Information: See the Cashiers and Student Accounts website for tuition and fee schedules.
Assistantships: See the College of Education Graduate Assistantships page for detailed information and application procedures about graduate assistantships.

Start the Application Process

For more information about the program, call 785-532-5541 or email cjwalker@k-state.edu

Student Learning Outcomes
  1. Students will demonstrate knowledge and application of theories related to student development, to campus environments. and to student success.
  2. Students will demonstrate knowledge and application of enrollment management, organizational, legal, and fiscal theories, principles, and interventions in higher education.
  3. Students will demonstrate knowledge of various research methodologies and analyze their appropriateness for specific research problems.
  4. Students will demonstrate proficiency in developing a research proposal and applying research methods relevant to student affairs administration.
  5. Students will demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate, synthesize, and communicate information pertinent to student affairs in higher education.
  6. Students will demonstrate ethical and professional attitudes and behaviors in oral and written academic work and in other forms of communication.


The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Student Affairs in Higher Education requires a minimum of 90 post-baccalaureate, graduate credit hours. With the approval of the supervisory committee, up to 30 graduate hours earned as part of the master’s degree may be used to satisfy the degree requirements. 

A designated core of 15 hours of graduate credit, typically a part of the master’s degree in student affairs, is required. These courses may be part of a master’s degree or must be completed in addition to the doctoral course work. These courses include the following:

Doctoral Degree Requirements
All courses are three credit hours unless otherwise noted.

Admission Requirements

Admission to graduate study is granted by the Dean of the Graduate School upon the recommendation of the faculty in the graduate program. Applicants seeking admission to this master’s degree program must submit the information noted below. Before starting the online application, gather all information and documents for all of the admission requirements so that they can be uploaded into the application system. All materials must be received before review will begin.

  • A completed online Graduate School Application
    • Go to the Kansas State University Graduate School home page and click on “Apply Now.” Follow the prompts for completing the application process.
    • Application Deadlines:
      • U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents – Applications are accepted throughout the year.
      • International Students – The online application, application fee, test scores, transcripts, financial documents, and all required application materials need to be submitted by the following dates:
        • January 1 for fall (August) enrollment
        • August 1 for spring (January) enrollment
        • December 1 for summer (June) enrollment
  • Graduate School Application Fee
    • Domestic Students – A $65 application fee is required for all domestic students; the application will not be processed without this fee. The fee can be paid by credit card when completing the online application.
    • International Students – A $75 application fee is required; the application will not be processed without this fee. The fee can be paid by credit card when completing the online application.
  • Official Transcripts
    • You must upload into the online application system a scanned copy (PDF preferred) of the official transcript(s) from each college or university where you received your bachelor's degree(s) and completed any post baccalaureate course work or degrees. Transcripts become part of your records at Kansas State University and cannot be returned. Please be aware that printouts from university student portals are not considered a copy of your official transcript. If you are admitted, you will be required to submit an official transcript for GPA and degree conferral verification from the institution(s) where you received your degree(s) and completed any post-baccalaureate credits. Students whose transcripts are not in English must furnish a translation by an appropriate authority. Failure to list any colleges or universities attended may result in dismissal from the university.
  • Statement of Goals and Professional Experience
    • You must upload into the online application system a 3-5 page, double-spaced paper that addresses the following topics:
      • Career and professional goals and aspirations, and how being accepted to the program will benefit the goals and aspirations;
      • Evidence of commitment to the student affairs profession;
      • Competencies and experiences related to the program (e.g., student affairs experience, interpersonal skills, teaching skills, program development experience);
      • Evidence of motivation, leadership, and strong work ethic;
      • Knowledge, competencies, and experience related to research;
      • Research interests;
      • Evidence of experience with diversity and, if applicable, fluency in languages other than English; and
      • Professional experiences that support application.
    • The paper is to be well written and thoughtfully presented. For resources to help with writing the paper, see the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL). An additional writing sample(s) that is independently authored may be submitted as part of the application process (e.g., graduate course paper, thesis, published article).
  • Scholarly Writing Sample (Replaces the GRE Requirement)
    • An important aspect of doctoral work is to advance and apply scholarship on educational issues within the context of the academic program. For the purpose of this application, please consider a complex issue related to student affairs in higher education that you find important and compelling, and develop a scholarly essay (approximately 5-8 pages) which includes:

      • an overview of the issue you’ve chosen to explore,
      • a presentation of the current state of knowledge in the literature related to the issue (citing sources as appropriate), and,
      • conclude with a possible interpretation of the critical issue from at least two different perspectives, including a first stab at the potential for future research on the topic. How could you further study this issue?
    • The essay should be uploaded as a MS Word document or PDF file, double-spaced, formatted in APA (6th ed.) style, and include a minimum of 5 scholarly (peer-reviewed) sources. The essay will be assessed according to the following elements: overview of the issue, incorporation of existing literature, interpretation of the critical issue, articulation of future research ideas, and overall coherence and readability.
  • Letters of Recommendation
    • Three letters of recommendation are needed from college or university educators and/or colleagues or supervisors who are qualified to address your professional skills and your potential for success in the graduate program. Enter the names and email addresses of the recommenders into the appropriate area in the online application.
  • A Professional Resume or Vita
    • You must upload into the online application system a professional resume or vita that includes previous academic degrees, past and present employment, professional activities and roles, and other pertinent information. 
  • An Interview
    • An interview with faculty members in this program may be requested before an admission decision is made (e.g., phone, video conference, on campus).
  • English Language Proficiency
    • To demonstrate competence in the English language, an official report of scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System - academic exam (IELTS) or Pearson Test of English (PTE) must be sent to Kansas State University for all applicants whose primary language is not English. Enter your scores in the online application and upload the report of your scores. Learn more about English proficiency requirements at: http://www.k-state.edu/grad/admissions/application-process/international/ 

International applicants must meet the same academic standards for admission as those required of domestic students. When applying for admission, international applicants must provide an Affidavit of Financial Support and documentation of English language proficiency. Detailed information about these issues is provided at the following website: http://www.k-state.edu/grad/admissions/application-process/international.

In some cases, a student may wish to take a course(s) prior to being admitted in a degree program. In these cases, a person must be admitted as a non-degree student. No more than nine credit hours earned as a non-degree student may be applied toward an advanced degree. However, successful completion of any hours taken as a non-degree student does not guarantee admission into the program. Non-degree students are not eligible for financial assistance. A faculty advisor is not assigned to non-degree students.