Faculty from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) graduate programs in Higher Education are exploring the possibility of offering a Ph.D. degree in Higher Education Policy Research.
This degree would include several notable features. First, it would involve required coursework in policy issues and politics in American higher education combined with policy research coursework focusing on either two-year colleges, faculty, administration and finance, or student affairs. Second, it would require advanced statistics and research coursework applied to a supervised research practicum in a higher education policy-related setting.
Little Rock’s role as the Arkansas state capital would serve to effectively prepare students for careers in higher education research, policy creation and analysis, institutional research, statewide coordinating agencies and governing boards, foundations, policy institutions, state government and legislative agencies, regional and national higher education consortia, and regional and national policy institutes. Graduates will have a deep understanding of higher education issues and sophisticated research skills to serve institutions, the State of Arkansas, and the nation as respected participants in the state and national discussions about improving the policies, operating practices, and performance of higher education.
This degree also would create a cadre of higher education policy researchers, particularly for the state of Arkansas, the southern region, and for other state and national organizations. These students, while in the program, would become a part of the national conversations and publications regarding important higher education issues, create new knowledge, and link their empirical research to institutional, state, and national policy formulation and implementation. Upon graduation, and while in the program, these researchers will focus on the goal of creating the knowledge that will improve the policy, practices, and outcomes of higher education.
Program graduates will assume professional roles in such organizations as: statewide governing and coordinating boards, national organizations such as the 50 State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO offices), the Southern Region Education Board (SREB), Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE); foundations such as the Lumina Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation and many others with a focus on improving higher education outcomes; state and federal executive agencies and legislatures; national, specialized and regional accreditors, and within institutions of higher education as academic deans, vice presidents and directors of institutional research, faculty in two- and four-year institutions.
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