Center for the Study of Higher Education
Professor Gary D. Rhoades
Director, Center for the Study of Higher Education

I am so pleased to know of your interest in the Center for the Study of Higher Education’s PhD program at the University of Arizona.

Our Fall 2024 application is still open! Applications are welcomed after January 22, but please be aware that, although opportunities for acquiring financial support might still be a possibility, financial support may or may not be available if admitted.

The Center's work is distinguished by:

  • A commitment not just to improving practice, but also to educational changes that enhance the realization of social justice in higher education and challenge normative ways of thinking with critical quantitative and qualitative methodologies, critical policy and organizational studies, and a focus on geography, identity, and social relations, including race and gender identity.
  • A consideration of how developments in the political economy shape and are expressed in the restructuring of higher education settings, policies, professions, and practices, including the dynamics of HSI servingness and their implications for students, faculty, and institutions.
  • An exploration of the international/global dimensions, issues, and agencies related to higher education, with particular attention devoted to the Americas and to Indigenous populations.
  • An expansive view of college access and success that pays particular attention to community college students, issues of equity in the transition to college, and transfer student pathways.
  • These distinctive characteristics go beyond individual faculty; they reflect a collective synergy and orientation of our faculty to scholarship and practice.

Diverse, supportive, challenging intellectual community

Each year we admit approximately 25 Ph.D. students and 15 M.A. students. The life experience and perspectives of the approximately 130 students enrolled here flavor our program. We do not expect the majority of our students to become faculty/professors, although some do. With a small core of required classes, we give students the flexibility to specialize in an area of expertise based on their own unique interests and professional goals to move into a range of higher education policy, research, service, and leadership positions. Ours is a diverse, supportive, and challenging intellectual community, and our students are invaluable in making that type of community possible. A high proportion of our students are accomplished professionals and we value the practical experience and organizational experience they bring, along with their commitment to service, equity, and transformation.

Over half of our students are women, and approximately half are students of color (with over 30% Latinx, almost 10% African-American, and 8% Native American). A large proportion are first-generation college students. Several are international or have immigrant backgrounds. This diversity enriches our community and infuses every aspect of the work we do.

Faculty foster a culture of research

We are supportive of each other's work and that of our students. Most of our students work, yet are fully engaged intellectually in a program that emphasizes a culture of research and reflective practice. Our aim is to bring theories and findings from the academic literature to bear on professional practice in ways that enhance students' abilities to understand, analyze, and act within postsecondary organizations and systems. We seek students who are deeply committed to the advancement and improvement of higher education as students, practitioners, scholars, and activists.

Most of our students advance into positions in various support professions and administration, but some also pursue faculty positions. Although most obtain positions on college and university campuses, we have also placed students in systemwide administration, policy agencies such as WICHE, and in private enterprise.

An important contributor to our intellectual community is the Higher Education Student Organization (HESO). It sponsors formal and informal annual functions and activities that are academic, professional, and social in nature and that address student needs as well as bring students and faculty together for supportive exchange.

Get to know us on a more personal level!

Our core faculty

Our affiliate faculty

Heather Haeger

Heather Haeger was awarded the NSF grant for the project titled: Research on Educational Equity and Diversity in STEM (REEDS) Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. Awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), it is a $1.25 million, three-year grant aiming to support four postdoctoral researchers to study culturally responsive practices in STEM. The project is jointly funded through NSF’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources and the Hispanic Serving Institution Program.

Heather and her team focus their research on how students and educators can connect their cultures and communities to STEM education. As a result build a culturally responsive and inclusive STEM learning environment in high schools, community colleges, and universities. The research connects to the diverse local communities and the University of Arizona's mission as a Hispanic Serving Institution in Southern Arizona.

Pricipal Investigator: Heather Haeger
Co-Pricipal Investigator: Dr. Regina Deil-Amen
Co-Pricipal Investigator: Guadalupe Lozano
Co-Pricipal Investigator: Judy Marquez Kiyama
Key Personnel: Marla Franco

NSF Award Abstract
Press Release

To learn more about her research on inclusive approaches to undergraduate research, take a look at some of her published findings: