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Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership

Earn your Ed.D. or Ed.S. in Higher Education Leadership at NLU

Prepare to advance educational justice in your community through ethical, mission-oriented leadership in modern postsecondary institutions with National Louis University's Higher Education Leadership program. Through the program, you'll learn to use data to respond to challenges, celebrate achievements and contribute to higher education as a social institution for the public good.

  • Available online or in a convenient blended format
  • Flexible to fit your busy schedule
  • Complete the specialist program in 1.5 years
  • Earn both your education specialist and doctoral degrees


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

  • A community of practitioner-scholars. We believe 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, and their talents and experiences enhance our learning community. 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.

  • Practical and purposeful. The 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 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 up to 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. Students typically complete our specialist program in just 1.5 years. From there, you can continue on for as little as another year and earn your doctorate. This efficient path is made possible by including capstone/dissertation planning and writing in each course, and by pairing you with an expert faculty advisor from orientation to graduation. Our students spend their 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, time, or effort.

  • Flexible while maintaining quality. Unlike other institutions, we 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 come together to provide wraparound support for your entire program experience. 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.  As a higher education leadership student, you'll join a true community of practitioner-scholars who 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 factor in their overall satisfaction with our higher education leadership programs.



Through NLU's higher-education leadership programs, you'll learn how to:

  • Advance higher education as a common good by identifying and crafting solutions for urgent, contemporary institutional issues
  • 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.
  • Identify data needs, select appropriate empirical approaches and engage in research related to solving complex issues with multiple stakeholders
  • Engage in collaborative, evidence-based practices to create, lead, manage and grow programs and initiatives designed to advance the institutional mission and goals
  • Contribute to efficient educational leadership and management of various functions of an HEI, including academic affairs, faculty development, student services, enrollment management, record management, academic technology, quality assurance and other operational areas through action research
  • Integratie 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.

  • Online—fully online courses, with one weekend residency in years 2 and 3. 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 are also required. This executive Ed.D. in higher education program format is offered in Chicago and Tampa.

These formats encourage the formation of strong learning communities for networking and practice, and enables participants to apply new knowledge immediately to professional and classroom settings.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for postsecondary education administrators was $92,360 (2017), with faster-than-average job growth projections of 10% through 2026.

The median annual pay for postsecondary teachers was $76,000 (2017), with much faster-than-average job growth projections of 15% through 2026.

National Louis University 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, adding 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 to fit your busy schedule
  • 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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