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Community College LeadershipPh.D.

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Ph.D. in Community College Leadership

The program has a strong reputation as an academically rigorous program that emphasizes executive-level leadership preparation. Students interact with some of the most important higher education leaders and policymakers in the U.S. while studying under the guidance of dedicated faculty members.

Students from across the U.S. take live web classes in the fall and spring and gather once-a-year at the annual Summer Institute, our signature national event the first two weeks in June.

Courses are not your typical "online class". You interact in real-time with professors and other passionate community college leaders from across the U.S. as classmates. Think of it as a "traditional" college class, except instead of a classroom you meet with classmates once-a-week via live video conference in the afternoon/evening anywhere you have high-speed internet, so you can attend class from home, work, or on the road. Watch video where students talk about the online experience >

The course of study has four elements:

  • core coursework in community college leadership (21 credits)
  • research courses (15 credits)
  • elective courses (6 credits)
  • dissertation (12 credits)

The 54-credit program typically takes about 3.5 years to complete, including a dissertation that students start developing early in the program in a series of Proseminar courses. ODU's reputation as a U.S. News & World Report top-ranked research university and its status as the most affordable university in the Commonwealth of Virginia makes your degree worth the investment.

Credits to Complete


Typical Years To Complete


Typical Size of Cohorts


Course of Study

Core Courses

  • CCL 820 Community College Leadership
  • CCL 824 Community College Finance, Fundraising, and Resource Management
  • CCL 826 Community College Curriculum, Program Development, and Quality Assurance
  • CCL 830 Community College Politics, Policy, and Advocacy
  • CCL 866 Modern Community College: Foundations, Philosophy, and Vision
  • HIED 808 Contemporary Issues in Higher Education
  • HIED 852 The Law of Higher Education

Research Courses

  • HIED 809 Proseminar in Doctoral Studies (3 x 1-credit)
  • FOUN 812 Research Design and Analysis
  • FOUN 813 Program Evaluation in Education
  • FOUN 822 Applied Linear Models in Educational Research or
    FOUN 823 Analysis of Variance Applied to Educational Research
  • FOUN 814 Qualitative Research Design in Education

Note: Most students also take FOUN 722 Applied Statistics & Data Analysis as a prerequisite to advanced statistics. However, students with prior knowledge of statistics (i.e., univariate, bivariate, t-test, chi-square, and simple linear regression) from prior graduate-level coursework may email syllabi from those course(s) to their academic advisor and request a waiver of the FOUN 722 prerequisite requirement.


Students work with their advisor to select two (2) electives to personlize their plan of study. Electives include courses such as:

  • CCL 868 Internship in Community College Leadership
  • HIED 812 Strategic Planning
  • HIED 863 Special Topics in Higher Education
  • SEPS 865 Trends and Issues of Economic and Workforce Development
  • HIED 844 Global Higher Education Systems (includes 10-day study abroad program)
  • FOUN 822 Applied Linear Models in Educational Research
  • FOUN 823 Analysis of Variance Applied to Educational Research


  • FOUN 881 Dissertation Seminar
  • CCL 899 Dissertation (9 credits minimum)

Summer Institute

The Summer Institute is the premiere annual event for the Community College Leadership doctoral program.

Each Summer Institute features a different guest scholar who engages with students in-class and presents on issues relevant to higher education leaders. There are also a variety of social and professional events that prepare students to successfully complete the coursework and dissertation.

Learn More
Question asked during Dissertation Panel

Points of Pride

EFL Higher Education

Student Profiles


M.S. Illinois State University, Higher Education Administration and Foundations College Student Personnel Administration | B.S. Illinois State University, Speech Communication | A.A. Heartland Community College

"I knew after my first semester as an admissions professional that I wanted to learn more about our profession of higher education and sought a master's degree. Since gaining professional experience with both 4-year and 2-year institutions, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Community College Leadership. ODU provides the curriculum that I had been searching for and I am excited for the journey."

Julie Marlatt serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management at the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR). Her path for higher education started at Heartland Community College as a first-generation college student and her time is spent advocating for the community college student.

Julie's research interests include data-driven decision making and change management. As a campus leader utilizing strategic enrollment management in the community college, both of these components are necessary to make the biggest impact on student success.


Kansas State University, Graduate Certificate in Academic Advising| University of Maryland, College Park M.Ed. Counseling and Personnel Services - College Student Personnel| Old Dominion University B.S. Human Services Counseling

"The pursuit of doctoral study has always been a personal interest of mine and the timing was right. I'm ready to learn more, in a more formal way. My selection of ODU was easy because I'm an alum ('01), but also because the program is respected, cost effective, and great time to degree completion rates."

Marcus serves as the associate dean of student affairs at the Germantown Campus of Montgomery College in Maryland.

He is also the chair of campus Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) and helps to provide operational leadership for the Assessment Centers, Enrollment Services, Germantown campus Counseling Department, Recruitment, Response Center, and Welcome Centers.

Marcus' research interests include: student access and success, organizational collaboration and change, sociology of higher education and student affairs.


Executive MBA, Texas A&M University| B.A. in Business Management, Marylhurst University

"I am pursuing a PhD in Community College Leadership so that I can learn how to be most effective in my position. ODU has a well-known reputation and is an institution I would be proud to have on my resume".

Angela Lawhorne is a military veteran with over 16-years of experience in workforce development, having worked for the Workforce Investment Board in California, the Virginia Employment Commission, Paul D. Camp Community College and the Virginia Community College System Office.

Angela has recently assumed a new role in February of 2017 as the Director of Workforce Development at Paul D. Camp Community College in Franklin, VA.

Angela's research interests include Organization administration and leadership, Organizational strategy and change, Workforce and labor market outcomes, and Coaching in Community Colleges.


M.Ed. Educational Counseling, Virginia Commonwealth University| B.S. Psychology, University of San Diego

"I had a growing realization that the educational system's inequities are failing the less fortunate, who are in turn failing to thrive. I chose ODU's CCL program because it offers a solid education with an excellent reputation, is offered in a format that fits my busy life, and will one day allow me to better serve those less fortunate."

David has been employed at Piedmont Virginia Community College since 2001 and currently serves as Director of Student Success and Retention.

David's research interests include: Diversity, equity, and inclusion, Organization, administration, and leadership, and Student success, well-being, and development.


M.A. Public Administration, Webster University| B.A. English, The University of Texas at San Antonio

"The mission of the community college is important to my community. I want to help this organization continue to provide access and equity to students. ODU is the perfect program for me because of the cohort support and the synchronous classes."

Janie is currently the Project Facilitator for Northwest Vista College in San Antonio, Texas, where she leads and collaborates on initiatives that include capital improvement projects, transition to a Pathways model, and strategic planning.
In her 16 years with NVC Janie has served in many positions, such as Service Learning Coordinator, Associate Director of Student Activities, Assistant to the Vice President, and Adjunct Faculty.

Janie's research interests are: Diversity, equity, and inclusion, Organization, administration, and leadership, Politics, policymaking, and planning.

How To Apply

Ph.D. applicants must apply by February 1st to begin in the summer semester.

All applicants must have a completed Master's degree from a regionally accredited university. To apply to the program:


  • Complete an online application;
  • Upload unofficial transcripts from previous educational institutions;
  • Applicants whose native language is not English must submit a current score for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) iBT of at least 80.

Applicants also upload supplemental materials including:

  • A CV or resume that describes the your academic and professional background;
  • 1-page Essay/Statement of Purpose that addresses: What are your professional goals? Why do you wish to obtain a PhD?
  • An original 2-page single-spaced academic writing sample on a current issue facing community colleges of interest to you that adresses: What is the issue? Why is it important to the field of community college research and practice?
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation. At least one letter must come from a professor or an individual who describes the applicant's academic performance and writing ability. Letters from senior-level leaders that endorse the applicant's leadership potential are encouraged. Applicants will enter the emails for references in the online system, and references will be emailed a link to upload a letter of recommendation on letterhead and complete the online reference form.

The GRE is not required to apply to the program. Email us at ccl@odu.edu if we can help you at any time throughout your application process.‚Äč


The admissions committee composed of program faculty will review all applications then will select applicants for an interview via phone with the committee or committee member(s). Interviews will be used to determine final admissions decisions.

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