Student Affairs Administration and Leadership - Doctor of Education


To prepare student affairs professionals for advanced leadership positions in institutions of higher education


  1. Knowledge: To develop competent and expert SA professionals;
  2. Management and Leadership: To develop innovative SA managers and leaders;
  3. Assessment, Evaluation and Research: To develop scholar practitioners who advance research-informed decision making;
  4. Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: To develop ambassadors of diversity, social justice, and globalization;
  5. Interpersonal Relationships: To develop ethical and people-focused leaders.

Learning outcomes

  1. Through knowledge acquired in this program, graduates will be able to:
    1. Demonstrate mastery of student affairs and higher education content;
    2. Synthesize information from a range of sources to analyze issues and apply solutions to professional practice.
  2. Through management and leadership skills acquired in this program, graduates will be able to:
    1. Develop a vision for a division, considering complexities of institutional culture and resources;
    2. Effectively justify decisions, judgments and recommendations, weighing competing evidence and making connections to the values and beliefs of the institution.
  3. Through assessment, evaluation and research skills acquired in this program, graduates will be able to:
    1. Use assessment, evaluation and research methods to inform practice;
    2. Defend data informed decision making in professional practice.
  4. Through an understanding of equity, diversity and inclusion skills acquired in this program, graduates will be able to:
    1. Apply a critical lens to analyze and critique student affairs and higher education practices;
    2. Challenge the manifestations of privilege and oppression at institutions of higher education, considering implications for practice.
  5. Through the development of exceptional interpersonal relationship skills acquired in this program, graduates will be able to:
    1. Demonstrate respectful collaboration while seeking alternate points of view;
    2. Defend practices that promote the worth, dignity, potential, and uniqueness of each person.


Admission to the Doctor in Education in Student Affairs Administration and Leadership Program is competitive and requires:

  1. A master's degree in student affairs, higher education, or related field;
  2. A minimum of three years professional experience in a post-secondary educational institution;
  3. Current employment in a student affairs related professional position in a post-secondary educational institution or related setting with the expectation of continuing that employment while in the SAA Ed.D. Program;
  4. An application essay in response to a prompt provided by the SAA Department;
  5. A professional resume or vitae;
  6. The names and contact information of three professional references;
  7. Official transcripts of all post-secondary work.

Candidates may be asked to submit additional application materials and/or participate in an interview process.


54 credits

21st Century Learners
Organization and Governance
Enrollment Management
Philosophical and Theoretical Foundations of Leadership in Education
Critical Analysis of Systemic Inequities: Challenges of Social Justice
Higher Education Finance and Budgeting
Qualitative Research Methods
Assessment and Program Evaluation
Supervision and Human Resource Management
Quantitative Research Methods
Strategic Planning and Managing Change
Policy and Regulatory Compliance
Organizational Communication
Dissertation Planning Workshop
Dissertation Seminar
Dissertation I
Dissertation II
Special Topics in Student Affairs Administration
College Teaching
Special Topics in Student Affairs Administration and Leadership
Independent Study
Doctoral Writers' Retreat
Total Credits54

Students must successfully complete and defend a dissertation. Steps include:

  1. Select a dissertation chair and committee.
  2. Pass a dissertation proposal oral defense with the selected dissertation committee.
  3. Submit a written dissertation to the selected dissertation committee (ideally by the final semester of the third year of full-time enrollment).
  4. Not less than one semester after successful defense of the dissertation proposal, present an oral defense of the dissertation to the selected dissertation committee.
  5. Submit the dissertation to Graduate & Extended Learning at least two weeks prior to the end of the term in which the student intends to graduate. Complete the necessary review and revision requirements as outlined by Graduate & Extended Learning.
  6. To graduate in the same semester as their dissertation defense, students must successfully defend their dissertations by mid-November in the Fall or early-April in Spring. Visit the Ed.D. Program's dissertation page for exact dates.

Students must maintain continuous term-to-term enrollment (excluding winter intercession) if all degree requirements have been completed except for the dissertation. Students meet this requirement by registering for GRC 799 for zero credits and paying a special course fee equal to the cost of one resident graduate credit. After two enrollments in GRC 799, students still actively engaged in research or writing and who need to maintain access to university resources must register for GRC 795 and pay a special course fee equal to 50% of the cost of one resident graduate credit. Further details of this Graduate Terminal Project Completion Policy can be viewed in the graduate catalog.

University graduate degree requirements

After being admitted to the program of one's choice, candidates for a graduate degree must:

  1. Complete any preliminary course work and deficiencies.
  2. Complete all courses and other program requirements, including residence requirements prescribed for the degree desired in the respective school or college within a seven-year period from the date of initial enrollment, with the exception of students enrolled in the Student Affairs Administration and Leadership Ed.D. (SAA Ed.D.) graduate program. SAA Ed.D. students must complete all degree requirements within ten years from the time of initial enrollment in the graduate program.
  3. Earn a minimum of 30 credits for a master's degree; 54 credits for a doctorate or post-master's degree. Earn at least one-half of the minimum number of credits required in the program in graduate-only level courses (700, 800, 900, and non-slash 600 level courses). Some UWL graduate programs require more than 30 graduate credits. Please review the individual program requirements listed in the catalog for the exact number of credits required.
  4. Earn a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00.
  5. Satisfy dissertation, thesis, seminar paper, terminal/graduate projects and internships, or comprehensive examination, where applicable. A dissertation or thesis approved by the committee must be submitted to Graduate & Extended Learning for editorial review and approval by the Dean of Graduate & Extended Learning. The recommended initial submission date for review is two weeks before commencement. Ordinarily, a seminar paper or project report does not have to be approved by the Dean of Graduate & Extended Learning. However, if the seminar paper or project report is to be archived in Murphy Library, the student must follow the same rules as they apply to the dissertation/thesis requiring approval from the Dean of Graduate & Extended Learning. For further research/dissertation/thesis guidelines, see Graduate & Extended Learning.
  6. File a completed "Intent to Graduate" form online via the WINGS Student Center immediately following registration for the final semester or summer term in residence. December graduates and winter intersession should file by May 1. May and summer graduates should file by December 1.
  7. Pay the graduation fee and remove all other indebtedness to the university. Payment of graduation fees does not imply readiness for graduation and does not take the place of applying for graduation.
  8. Complete all requirements within 30 days after the official ending date of a term in order for a degree to be awarded for that term. (See #5 above for separate deadline for written capstone experience.)